Vacation Melancholy

We drove away from home this morning, leaving Jack at home with a sitter, which, predictably, left me conflicted. I was excited to leave, to take my other children on a little trip where we are doing normal things, like going to movies and out to eat, after a longer car ride than Jack would’ve been able to comfortably handle. In order to do regular vacation-y things for a few days, we have to leave Jacky behind.

Of course, we haven’t left behind autism or profound anxiety, because where the two little boys go, those things go too. But the little guys can do things that Jack can’t, and sometimes, I think we need to expose them to a world outside of our carefully structured, self-contained life at home. We need some family memories that aren’t about things getting broken in our house.

The whole situation makes me feel both relieved and sort of blah. I’m relieved we have respite help, and that we can get away. But a mom is a person who wants every good thing for her child. I want Jack to be able to do everything with us. I want him to be able to talk and behave in public and wear regular clothes and eat a variety of foods. I wish he could do all the things.

I’m sad that he can’t. His life is so limited and limiting. I feel very meh about all of it.

How hard must it be to be Jack? To not have a voice. To be left behind. To struggle to even wear shoes.

Multiple times this Christmas season, I thought, “Jesus was born. He lived and he died so Jack doesn’t have to stay disabled.” It was a warm, glowing thought. It’s so straightforward that many people find it overly simplistic.

But to me, the concept of the atonement is much bigger than I feel I can fully grasp. I don’t know how Jesus’s suffering washes away every disappointment—even my dumb first-world problem of being glum we can’t take a little trip all together.

I don’t know how every bad thing can be swallowed up by that one act of love.

But wow. I’m grateful it is.

I know it is because when I experience this kind of depressing evaluation of how our family operates, I think of Jesus choosing to die, simply so Jack wouldn’t be alone or forever stuck in this nonverbal, mentally disabled state, and so I wouldn’t be hopelessly sad about the fact that my family can’t take a vacation together.

I don’t know how he did it, but Jesus did it—for us.

This is my Christmas gift. It’s Jesus. And the way he takes away the sting of the weirdness of our life.

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