I knew it was probably not a good idea to take Connor to the Christmas Choir at the church, but he had been doing well lately so I thought I would try. So we drove to my aunt and uncle's house. He had been there lots of times before. But this time was different. He was very quiet. And by very quiet, I mean did not speak unless spoken to. Looking back, that should have been my first clue that something somewhere was wrong.
We drove to the church when it was time and it was a beautiful drive. Gorgeous homes, turning into city landscapes and then we were there. There were other people there too, but the main door was locked. A church door locked on a Sunday of a performance? My second clue. Perhaps God was trying to tell me something...or Buddha, or someone in the universe and I just wasn't tuned in. It was cold out there! But finally someone did come to the door and let us in. What a gorgeous church. The stained glass was more ornate and beautiful than any I had seen in a while. Not just pictures, but an entire decoration of shapes and a gorgeous blue was definately the pigment of choice throughout the structure. It was amazing and I thought for sure that Connor would bee blown away by it as well. Not so much.
He picked up a hymnal and asked me to read to him. I explained the words were lyrics and that the notes were another language--musical language. So while I sane songs like Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bells, he followed along in the book with his fingers on the notes slowly progressing downward as I sang...until something snapped and I felt the first punch in my leg. "Where are they? They are NOT coming out" he said, accusing me my lying--in church no less. "In a few minutes honey"..."Do you want to call daddy" I said as I reached for my phone and all I got was more leg pain as he continued to punch...and in my own head I already had started to prepare our escape route if necessary. I started planning on my drive to the church for that matter but I had to get there, view the layout, to be more specific in my planning. My hypervigilence and military training were not all for naught.
Finally, they started walking out and we saw my aunt. She waved to Connor and I thought I was in the clear. Until, they walked past the area where I had told Connor they would be and continued walking into the aisles on either side of the pews instead. Now, I KNEW I was in trouble. The expectation was smashed beyond recognition, and there was already the buildup of aggression. As the singers filled the aisles, smiling with music in hand, I felt, but did not see, the first hit to my face. And it hurt. There were a second and a third, but they came in the midst of my planning and executing our exit strategy so I never flinched although the pain was excruciating. Did I have time to think about whether or not my nose was broken, not really. I was focused. And I was focused on getting my child out of that sensory overload of beautiful voices and acoustics of "Come All Ye Faithful" in the midst of the ugliness and cruelty of autism. I said to my cousin, "I have to get him out of here" and grabbed Connor who was at the point, screaming, "This is STUPID" or something like that. I managed to pick him up, all 50 pounds of my four year old and as I made my way down the aisle, the singers parted, mostly dressed in black and I couldn't have told you if they looked sad, understanding, angry or thought I was rude as I made my way, in what seemed like forever through that music filled church to the doors and then outside to the safety of the cold.
How cruel a joke that the same beautiful Christmas choir music might have well been pure evil driving my child's brain insane to the point of no return. That walking into the cold winter air of quiet, in amidst the traffic, stopped the violence. Every day I work tirelessly, researching, spreading awareness, calling doctors, talking to the schools, pour my life into making my son's life better, and that day, was nothing short of a nightmare before Christmas in the real sense of the phrase. It was like someone tapping me on the shoulder to remind me of the extent of what I am dealing with. Well, it worked because I am officially back in reality.