I’ve always been a fairly sentimental guy, so I like birthdays and anniversaries and days that give you a moment to reflect on what happened in the past and what your present is like.

Over the past week I’ve had the opportunity to mark two pretty big anniversaries in my life. One that is quite exciting and in this day and age all too rare. The other caused some pain.

First, the good one. My wife & I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. We had a great little getaway thanks to the grandparents watching our little guy for a few days. It was fun to take a trip down memory lane and recount some of the adventures we’ve shared over these past 10 years. We have no idea where the time has gone. It’s kind of neat to think back to a time when we were so young and didn’t really have too many troubles. I had a nice head of hair and a bright future. I’d like to think I still have a bright future ahead of me, but the hair…well, not so much!

During these 10 years we’ve certainly faced some challenges along the way, but we’ve really had a wonderful time. We used to be surprised at how many couples we knew who struggled in their relationships. We figured that marriage wasn’t rocket science and that we were kind of experts at it. Other than having a few minor arguments about directions while driving on road trips, life was pretty easy.

That’s where the second and not-so-good anniversary comes in. It was a year ago that we first became aware that something might be wrong with our son. We never saw it coming. Just one day before we we first alerted to it, we were taking a day to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary. Even though our lives were more stressful than our first year together with a child and full-time jobs, we were still feeling like kids. Talking about future plans, future trips we wanted to take, hopes and dreams for our son and our little family unit.

But once our eyes were opened to the possibility that something might not be right with our son, our world was thrown into a tizzy. Fast forward to now and we can certainly see that we’ve accomplished a lot and our son is really doing pretty good. But just thinking about that time last year when all of this started gives me that sick feeling in my stomach all over again.

We’ve had moments this past year where we feel stronger than we ever could have imagined. But there’s also been times where I didn’t know if I could sink any lower. Suddenly I realized that you have to work a lot harder at a marriage when there’s a never-ending amount of stress to deal with daily.

Fortunately our marriage is strong enough that even with the challenges of this past year, we’re still here. Too many marriages crumble under the stresses that come with having a child with autism or other special needs.

I pray that no one else ever has to go through what we’ve been and still are going through. But with the rising autism rates, there are sure to be many other couples facing these challenges on a daily basis.

My hope is that someday this autism anniversary won’t even be remembered. In my dreams we’re too busy having fun as a family and letting others know how we recovered our son.


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