Here is another, and the LAST, of some other valid perspectives on “the rest of the story” or “our family’s last 10 years with Lauren.”
We raised some awesome kids and grew a stronger marriage.
This is the last, and one of my favorite, perspectives of the last ten years. I’ll start with the awesome kids. Lauren is our awesome kid that my book and this blog has told much about and will tell more about; so this post is really to mark some appreciation for our other awesome kid—the unsung typical sibling, Bryn. Bryn happens to be a lover of virtually all things that life has to offer, a fine musician, a talented artist, a creative crafter, a respectful daughter, and a good friend. But the pictures I’ll post here are representative of the thing that she is that has brought the most unexpected, happy tears to my eyes over the years—she’s a sincerely loving sister.
Fall 2002 in our backyard.
Lauren tolerating warm clothes and feeling well enough to play on the swings.
Lauren wearing a fleece hat and scarf = Lauren in a silly mood, so time to lovingly tease and grab some hugs.
A winter family day in our backyard—2003(?)
Don't let the stance fool you. Lauren's always loved crushing hugs, especially when (or because) they were always spontaneous, true expressions of affection from Bryn.
November 2006On a new hiking trail with a viewing station high above some water. This calls for some reassurance from a trusted sister!
Thanksgiving 2006Sometimes just waiting for a holiday meal is stressful, so you need a trusted sister by your side to get you through those moments, too.
April 2003Lauren loves hiking with her dad, but having her sister along always made it extra special, and sometimes a little more giggly.
April 2003One of this mom’s favorite pictures, because these two look like any typical sisters just enjoying a beautiful day, a hike, and each others' company.
Now on to the stronger marriage, a good place to end this 4-part update on the roller coaster journey of Lauren’s last ten years. I find it difficult (so try not to) write about Craig’s and my marriage, because it’s virtually impossible to do so in a non-sappy way that adds to the reader rather than just indulges the writer. I much prefer a book or movie that has characters show their love than talk about their love and I always hope my writing does that, too. So if this were a movie, to show how our love has grown over the past 10 years, I guess I would show you a scene where Craig and I are sitting with bed head hair, warm coffee in our hands, moments before “the day begins” (meaning we have a few minutes before we must awaken Lauren), and the conversation evolves until one of us says something like this: “There’s no question, it’s been super tough and I don’t know if we’re even near the top of the mountain…but I wouldn’t trade a moment of it if it meant our relationship would be any less or any different than it is right now.” (Yeah, we actually talk that way to each other, but usually only before we’re fully awake and haven’t enjoyed a full night’s sleep, so . . . all the time.)
To push it slightly, because this is my blog, and I am on the subject, I will admit that I wrote something recently upon being asked “What makes a marriage great?” The inquirer was looking for short answer only, so I honed it down to 2 things, even though I could probably list 100 things. In writing it, I assumed everyone knows of, so I can skip over, the 2 requirements for a good marriage—“Choose wisely; Treat kindly.” Nothing will make a marriage great if you didn’t choose wisely and if either is not treating kindly. Now that we’ve established that, if you’ll indulge me:
What makes a marriage great? Two things. First: Share a vision. Whether it’s a vision of how you’re called to serve God, how you’re going to make the world a better place, how you’re going to raise your children, how you’re going to defy social norms, or ALL those, a shared vision is essential. Second: Submit. Not husband to wife, nor wife to husband, but BOTH, to EACH OTHER, ALL the time. When both people in a marriage are out to make happen what is important to the beloved, it’s “The Gift of the Magi” every day. Be ready for tears. Of importance. And of joy.
See? Sappy. But that’s what I got. And that’s who we are as a duo. We greatly credit the challenges of autism for firming up our shared vision, and for helping us both to be much better “submitters.” The last few years, we have both “focused like a laser beam” on being the best wife and husband possible to each other, and I don’t think that would have happened if raising a Lauren hadn’t required daily discernment about what’s most important—most important today, and most important considering the wee bitty bit of time we have on this earth.