She had beautiful brown eyes that were quickly filling with tears as she was sitting down in the chair provided in front of my desk. Handing her a tissue box I tell her “I can help”. She quivered and explained that her boyfriend just left for Afghanistan and the rent is due on her apartment. He would transfer money but the lines of communication are long and complicated with no guarantee of getting a message through before the eviction notice is posted to the red door to their place.
With overdrawn accounts, looming bills and a fee for late payment coming in fast for her rent, she pulled in a heavy breath back and sighed. “I have my state check coming in next Tuesday, can you keep my accounts open ‘till then, even though I’m overdrawn and my overdraft privileges are suspended?”
“Yes, you are going to be fine with your accounts. We don’t even come close to suspending accounts until 45 days pass.” “What state check are you referring too?” I asked, noting the file. “My brother is autistic, I am his care provider, and my mom and I are all he has. I take care of him during the day.” She was now composed and stoic getting past her admission of need.
It was my turn now. “Your brother is autistic? So is my son.” It was instant recognition between us, two people who live with the difficult intricacies of having autism in the home. The two boys are the same age. We both had won the 1 in 10,000 lottery of the early 1990’s before the disorder reached the raging level of today of 1 in 88 or less. “Adrian. My brother’s name is Adrian.” She tells me wearing a watery smile. “James. Plain name James, he is my son.” I laugh back to her.
We discussed at length her living conditions with an AWOL boyfriend. How creepy her cheap apartment really was with people kicking in the door, police raids at 1:00 in the morning – and how she didn’t like to stay alone. She’s crying again. “Why can’t I just NOT be responsible for one simple minute? I can’t do this alone.” I tear up now too. “Because we just don’t have that option, do we?” We agreed that autism complicates reality; it drags you down and holds you hostage in a place that constantly reminds you of your responsibilities. Every. Single. Minute. Of. Every. Single. Day.
She left knowing the real me, and I was personally going to see her accounts were preserved, fees halted, complete with an invitation to call me if she needed ANYTHING. (Heavy sigh.)
Later in the day, I get a call that someone wants to see me. No tears this time, but a smiling brown-eyed young lady accompanied by her mother. “I wanted my mom to meet you…….” She decided that afternoon that she was cutting out of the lease, moving home and helping her brother with school. Mom and I were just as fast friends, laughing at the shared similarities of our boys, recognizing each other’s contributions and ultimately appreciating the fates that brought us together. An hour later we parted with hugs and promised to keep in touch, maybe getting the boys together for video games and such. “Sounds great, let’s make it a plan soon.”
My village, oh how it grows. ~ Wendy Frye
“Fate loves the fearless.” – James Russell Lowell