It’s time to put the blue light away, but I can’t do it.
It’s May 1st. April has come to an end and so has Autism Awareness Month. So I should be putting our big blue light away in the basement, labeled in a box so I can find it for next year.
But I’m not ready. Or more importantly, my son’s not ready.
My 5 year old Howie? He loves that blue light.
Four weeks ago, my husband took our oldest Gerry to Home Depot to buy the special blue bulbs for our front door lights. While there, Gerry had the idea of getting a big floodlight and shining it on to the house, so the whole house would be blue.
So every night for the past 30 days, our house turned blue at exactly 7pm.
In the beginning of the month, it was still dark outside at that time. The light would shine bright through the bay window in our front room. As the days went on, it became more and more light outside. And now, it turns on even when the spring sunshine is still coming through the window.
Tonight I thought back on these past 30 days. Days that brought us an awareness campaign that started with a conversation with Parents Magazine and ended with 31 amazing stories in their “Voices of Autism” series. A month that started with a plea to the White House to “Light It Up Blue” that ended with an autism summit like no other. Friends becoming activists just by walking into Home Depot. Friends sharing their stories for the very first time.
It started dark as a community searched for some common ground on what awareness meant. It’s ending as a community coming together asking to continue to conversation. A community knowing that autism awareness does not end just because the calendar changes. Every day is autism awareness day in our houses.
So no, I wasn’t ready to turn off our blue spotlight. But I thought I’d better ask the person who cared about it the most. My son.
Snuggling in bed tonight, I asked him if he thought it was time to turn off the big blue light outside. He doesn’t know why it’s on. He never asked. He doesn’t care. He just thinks it’s cool.
“No, Mom! Please leave the light on. Look – it makes my ceiling blue.”
I looked up. There were four squares of blue light in the middle of his ceiling. All month long, the light has been coming through his bedroom window, shining on him as he sleeps.
That was good enough for me.
Now is the time to keep the conversation going. We’ll continue to shine the light on autism in our family long after everyone else turns their lights off.
We’ll keep our light on for the 1 in 110 children affected by autism. And their siblings. And their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbors.
But most importantly, we’ll keep it on because my son asked me to.
“This are the time to remember
Cause it will not last forever.
These are the days to hold onto
Cause we won’t although we’ll want to.
This is the time, but time is going to change.
You’ve given me the best of you,
And now I need the rest of you. ” – These Are The Times to Remember by Billy Joel