The storm thrashed outrageously outside my window, and I finally got up and admitted defeat.
"Okay, you win, storm, because I can't sleep," I said to myself. And I didn't know whether I was talking about the storm outside, or the storm within that coursed through my veins, that overwhelmed my every thought, no matter how hard I tried to ignore it.
I sighed and ran my hands through my thick black hair. I sat back on the bed, allowing my thoughts free rein over my mind.
My thoughts drifted back to that night eleven years ago. I was twenty one years old when I got pregnant with Briar. Quite simply, the pregnancy was not exactly planned. Even so, I had thought that Thomas would understand. I thought he would support me and the baby. But that only proved that I had not truly known him at all. He was in medical school, a big future ahead of him, and couldn't be bothered to care for his pregnant girlfriend, and, eventually, his daughter. My trust had been misplaced, and he left he without so much as a goodbye.
My most vivid memory was of the night Briar was born, and the months that followed her birth. For several months after her birth, my post-pardum depression took over my life, and I spent those months in psychiatric care. But when I was in that awful darkness, she was the light that guided me safely out. She was my strength, and she got me through it. To be able to come home to that after what seemed such a long time, was unbelievable.
The next memory I remember so clearly is the day Briar was diagnosed with autism. I could not understand much of what the doctor was saying, but I knew enough to know that something was not quite right with Briar. She threw around incomprehensible words, words such as 'neurodevelopmental disorder', 'communication disfunction', 'socially inept', and like words, finally, one I could grasp: 'mild- to medium- functioning autism.' I looked at her, unable to believe that my daughter, so full of life, could be so unfortunate.
Don't get me wrong, Briar and I had many happy years together. Through regular therapy, we were able to overcome many of the stereotypical symptoms of her disorder. She loved to play with her dolls, and she could tell you anything you ever needed to know about birds or butterflies. She liked paint- by- numbers, and country music, and dancing in the kitchen. Blueberry muffins, and laughter, and the pitter- patter of the rain on her window at night. And though it seemed impossible, and I thought I never could, I was able to accept her just as she was, and love her even more for it.
I tiptoed down the hallway and slowly opened the door to her bedroom. She was sleeping so peacefully.
I love you, I whispered. And I pictured the day that she would finally say it back to me.