Little Missy wanted to make a rocket out of an empty plastic bottle she found in the recycling bin. My fourteen year old autistic son wanted the bottle back where it belonged. Bottles are not rockets. They are bottles. They are not meant to grow wings and be wrapped in tin foil. So the war of the bottle began.
By chance, my friend Geraldine, an art graduate and an ex-special needs assistant to my son was visiting at the time. With all her kindness, wit and wisdom Geraldine defused an extremely stressful situation by whisking little Missy away with the bottle for an ‘out of this world’ makeover.
Autism drives my son’s battle to survive in this world. It’s a condition that severely impairs his communication, his abstract thinking and sensory processing skills. Such a condition makes it very difficult for him to understand what the bottle meant to his sister but it is also extremely difficult for his young sister to understand the internal battle that rages within her brother. All she knows is that she has her own battle to fight.
As my young man settled again my phone pinged. A text message from Clare. Told girls u coming down. They coming 2. B g8 2catch up.
Twice a year I make a point to catch up with friends from different stages in my life; school, uni, travel, work, interests, ex-neighbours. During these catch ups we talk, swap stories and share laughter and memories of old times. We have all had our fair share of troubles and joys but if there is anything ‘catching up’ has taught me it’s this: Make the most of what you have, and be kind, for everyone is fighting their own battle—even those who we think are getting it easy and have perfect lives.
For every friend I have who is experiencing financial difficulties, there are others whose riches do not make up for their unhappiness. For every friend who is worried about not having a job, I have another one who hates their job. I have high flying friends at the top of their careers who wish desperately to have the freedom and the time of those without one. While there are others who want to find someone to love, there are marriage friends who feel unloved and lonely within the confines of their marriage. Some friends are trying hard to conceive children, yet others feel burdened by the responsibilities that children bring. And then there are others who are tortured by their bulges and wrinkles, while many more in our communities are stricken with cancer and other illness.
We meet people day and daily with our own worries stuck in the back of our minds. And yet, when you take time to chat with people, one realizes that we are all the same. Life is a great battle for everyone and kindness is a great comforter while we are fighting our own battles.
It was late when Geraldine and little Missy returned. I can’t decide who or what sparkled the most, my daughter’s eyes or the rocket but one lit up my heart and the other will surely light up the moon. Artistic flare with a generous dollop of love and kindness created it—and a soft landing ground for all that evening who were fighting a hard battle.
Some folk quote Plato, others quote Ian MacLaren. Whoever it was had a deep insight into the human condition and sewed a seed for future generations with this great quote:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”