She came into our lives three summers ago, a replacement for the therapist who got canned because he had fallen asleep while our four year old son played on the second floor balcony in our home. She didn’t have very big shoes to fill; our biggest requirement? Someone who would stay awake during the three hour sessions, and maybe help Andrew stop banging his head on every hard surface he came across.
We let her into our home and she ended up coming into our lives. We wanted someone who would be there for our son. She ended up being there for our entire family. We wanted to feel less alone in our situation. She ended up being a shoulder to cry on, a friend to rely on, someone who stepped over the dirty laundry without a second glance once I realized that keeping the house spotless for her arrival each afternoon was an impossible feat.
She witnessed our pain, filled us with hope, and has fielded approximately 3,453 questions since July 2007. She celebrated right alongside us each time our son reached a new milestone, and gave a damn when, inevitably, things would go straight to hell.
She’s been in our home, five days a week for the past three years.
And on Monday we have to say goodbye.
She’s been given the opportunity to help many more children, just like Andrew, and even though instinctively, all I want to do is grab onto her ankles and beg her to stay, I know that other families deserve to be touched by her kindness, her dedication, her invaluable knowledge, and most of all, her ginormous heart.
I have dreaded this moment for a long time. It’s something that, as families who have in-home therapists we’re lucky enough to love, have to eventually endure. It’s the price we pay for bonding with the person we entrust to take a crappy situation, like having a kid with autism, and making it better somehow. They are strangers at first, and we are weary, never knowing what to expect, yet always hoping for the best.
With Heidi, we got the very best.
After trying hard to make a good impression, I realized that eventually the truth would come out, and just a short three months into her gig, I let the dishes pile up in the sink, and began to change out of my work clothes for our sessions and into my signature drawstring pants and loose fitting top. Without a bra. And she put up with it. Every. Single. Day.
If that’s not family, I don’t know what is.
My Dearest Heidi: I don’t know what we’ll do without you, but I do know that you have given us the tools and the confidence to go forward and continue to do the right thing by our little boy. Thanks to you, I am the “World’s Greatest Primer.” I estimate that over the years, we have shared a million laughs, a zillion frustrations, and several hundred cups of caffeine.
On Monday afternoon, as I ask you for the last time “coffee or tea?” please know that your chair will always be waiting for you at our modest dinner table. You know. In case you ever feel like stopping by. Just to make sure we haven’t gone and mucked everything up without you here to supervise (also, in case they give us another therapist who demands I wear my bra during sessions).
Please stop by.
And thank you, Friend.