I Feel Happy When...

Mr. Matt has a bushy beard that hides thumbprint-sized dimples in his cheeks. ("Social workers can't afford razors," he jokes.) His eyes are kind, his office is small, and he has a magnificent way with Camren. He holds his hand. He calls him "Buddy." He sees Camren's delightful sense of humor beneath his hardheadedness and often-abrasive nature.

In Mr. Matt's office, we can hear the hum of a lawn mower through the open window. The water feature plugged into the wall beside the bookcase gurgles and drips. We sit in chairs in a triangle formation and talk about our feelings. I feel happy when... I feel sad when... I feel angry when...

Mr. Matt goes first: "I feel happy when the sun is shining."

Camren is next: "I feel sad when I hit other kids."

And lastly, me: "I feel..."

How do I feel?, I ask myself, as my mind whirs and spins to complete the sentence. I feel angry when my son's autism becomes so challenging I find myself asking God why He thought I could handle it all. I feel guilty when the daily trials spur me to daydream about running away to a far off place. I feel anxious when I think about Cam's future and what it contains: Will he drive? Will he date? Will he marry? I feel lonely when others don't seem to want to understand my special needs son and our unique family dynamic.

I feel, I feel, I feel.

But then I look at Cam's face and how his chocolate-brown eyes are eagerly waiting for me to share how I feel. We just look at each other and my breath catches in my chest as I realize I see a twinkle in there. Down deep in the pupils. Where his soul shines through. He grins at me, puts his hand on my knee.

"I feel happy when Cam smiles at me and when he tells me he loves me. I feel happy to be Cam's mom."

Camren giggles, Mr. Matt smiles behind his beard, and the sound of the lawn mower pauses. In that moment my personal revelation is profound, and I see that my happiness, my joy, far outweighs any other emotion I feel. Because that's what happiness is...

The light that dissolves the darkness.
The faith that outshines the fear.
The boy with the spirit more magnificent than I know.
The afternoon spent in a small office, when I know everything will be okay.     


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