I put my all into my work. If I am signing my name to it, I want it to be good. And, as they say, all good things must come to an end. Because of funding restrictions, I eventually have to say goodbye to the clients I work with in the public autism therapy program where I am employed.
I get it. I do. The budget has to balance, and the money has to come from somewhere. Resources are limited. Clients can get up to six years of funding, and six years is not nothing.
But I forget that I understand when I have to say my goodbyes. Leaving a family who is losing access to services before they feel ready is a heartbreaking experience. I do everything I can, leave them with everything I can, and put on my Everything-will-be-okay face, but when I see the worry in mom's eyes, and the tears she is holding back, I can't just walk away. Instead, I hear myself switching into major pep talk mode, and let the overtime minutes overflow as I tell her, "You can do it. Believe in yourself. Never give up." Eventually, I have said all I know to say, and there is nothing left but to wish her well, and walk to my waiting car.
Today was a goodbye day. Goodbye, Mama-Warrior. Good luck.
The client I left today is far from my home, and I welcomed the drive back to the city. Prairie driving is deliciously mindless. The roads are flat and straight, and today was a clear day with little traffic. With the cruise control on, the car feels like it is practically driving itself. I have the freedom to let my mind wander.
Today, I leave the major highway for the tailgaters and semis, and find solice on the less traveled provincial road. I watch as a thousand tiny white butterflies dart in and out of the Manitoba wildflowers along the shoulder. I pass a few iconic green and yellow tractors, and watch the harvesters flip as they pull in the grain. There are cows and horses in pens to the right, with telephone poles zipping rhythmically past on my left.
The colours are too beautiful. Kelly green grass, golden field, blue sky stretching out to the level horizon... Glorious rolling clouds in the Land of the Big Sky. Bon Jovi sings me home.
I am sad. Sad for the family I left. Sad for the difficulties this thing called autism has brought to their life. Sad for how draining advocacy can be, for how hard it is too fight for your child, to get people to understand.
And then I feel a very faint and familiar wiggle in my middle. I know immediately that it is my baby, and I am feeling it move for the first time. On my own, on this sad and beautiful prairie drive, I focus on every flip and squirm. Thinking ahead, this child, too, will bring may difficult days. But today was beautiful.