There are many things I’ll admit to out loud. Many things will remain secret inside my bones. This I will say though…I am a jelly bean snob. Let me capitalize that. Jelly Bean Snob. I love the orbs of sugar and I will even eat the licorice flavors (it is all about balance). Some beans are better than others, but it is the Russell Stover jelly bean that will forever hold the most special place in my heart and palette. I was raised by Anne Eastwood who has taught me that the RS is revered, and we know some years impossible to find. I never knew how my obsession with this treat would be passed down to J&J. That was until the other day. Jake Fikar is now a third generation Jelly Bean Snob.
While planning the Easter festivities I asked my Mom if there was anything I could pick up for her or help her with. She replied in an almost panicked voice “I can’t find the jelly beans anywhere. If you could find some that would be great”. I knew this meant that I should release the hounds and begin the search immediately. As I pushed the Amazon app on my phone, I heard her say “Just don’t go through Amazon – I’m not paying those prices”. I was stopping at Walgreens on the way home, so I thought let me look at their website and see if they have stock. Sure, enough the brand popped right up on the website and jumped into my shopping cart. Seven bags. Four for Mom and three for us. The look on Mom’s face when I dropped them off was priceless but the relief I felt oozing from her veins was even better. I brought home my three bags and tucked them at the bottom of the community Easter basket.
The day before Easter Jake came home from King Kullen supermarket with his usual treats for the week. He offered me a few Russell Stover jelly beans. I thanked him profusely. I thought maybe he had tapped into the stash in the basket. No, he told me that he bought his own bag because while he really loved jelly beans from Uncle Giuseppe’s and Stew Leonard’s that Russell Stover jelly beans were amazing and the best he’s ever had. He also said that Easter would never be the same without a bag of his favorites. As I was lying in bed last night recapping my 56th Easter in my head I thought about Jake telling me about his favorite things while his eyes danced. I realized once again how lucky I am that Autism has touched me in ways I never ever thought were possible. All the years I spent falling asleep and screaming on the inside “Why me?” seemed ridiculous now. Instead I now think…Why not me?
The diagnosis and initial recommendations from therapists were shouting at me again. The reminders that this son of ours would likely never make choices of his own or be able to express himself adequately. Brace yourself I was told for this son you had high hopes for would really be very impaired. One therapist went as far to say as to say, “Be prepared for the impaired”. As I’ve talked about many times before, I wore these phrases and advice like weighted blankets and let myself be dragged into a dark pool of depression for a few years. I ate to keep myself cemented down and dull the pain. I smiled at everyone but wanted to die every single night as I laid in bed questioning how life would ever be happy again.
Autism can be limiting. It can be exhausting. It can put you in a position to think just one way and never look up or ahead. As you know from my former blogs and stories, I finally broke free from this thinking. Jake showed me the way. He showed me that life can be rough with Autism but that you can work through it. We all worked together to get through any challenge that was place before us. Any challenge.
The years have flown by. Jake has now celebrated 22 Easters. Each one has been brighter than the last. I look at Jake and how far he has come and realized that life is so much sweeter when I am grateful for everything that has happened in my life. I hope I am passing this outlook on to Jake. I think I am. He is clearly making his own decisions in life. This year the realization came in the form of candy. I am proud to have raised my own Jelly Bean Snob.
Happy Easter and Happy World Autism Day.