This past week, I had a chance to do a reading at the Chelsea Public Library, hosted by librarian Emily Meloche. It was a beautiful venue, receiving the Best Small Library Award from the Library Journal in 2008.
During the discussion after the reading, I was reminded of the many ways people come to the “story” of autism: as parents, care providers, professionals, neighbors, and relatives. From a number of parents, I heard briefly of their experiences. Since the event, I found myself thinking of a past exchange, one that I tell of in the chapter entitled “Flood Plain” in An Archaeology of Yearning. Not long after my son had been diagnosed, in the mid-1990s, I was waiting for him at his school. Having just dropped off her own son, a woman sat beside me, and we began a conversation. But, called to her meeting, she had to leave. In the book, I write: “… I think back to the woman’s eyes and the healing pause of a hesitant recognition, a shared longing, a hunger for the retelling or a new telling of a story she well knew. It was what we both needed, this amending, this wash of words.”
I do think that the finding of language, the wrapping of words around the chaos of experience, can be healing. We just can’t stop doing it.