Author’s Note: If your past week has been anywhere near as chaotic as mine (and if you’re the parent of a school-aged child in New York City, I know it has), I hope you’ll indulge me in this end-of-summer post. I promise to write all about my son’s new school placement next time, but for the moment, please join me as I take a deep breath and revisit the last days of summer.


I’m sitting on an Amagansett beach in postcard-perfect weather. And this third sunny vacation day is only one of the things I’m overwhelmingly grateful for this Labor Day weekend: Hurricane Irene didn’t submerge my Manhattan home under water like it did in some of our neighboring states and counties, 9/11 attacks did not directly impact my family and closest friends, and we finally got word that Brooks has a spot at Learning Spring, an excellent publicly-funded special education school for kids with autism where he will finally get the appropriate educational setting he needs.

To say that fortune is smiling on my husband and me is an understatement; it is beaming. And while my first instinct is to worry about the folks fortune has foresaken, and also the fickle qualities of Lady Luck, I made the choice to recline in my beach chair and let the rays of the sun heal me, even if just for these few days.

Brooks is no longer the kindergartener who was only happy repetitively watching the ocean waves (“stimming on them” for those of you familiar with the lingo). Our budding athlete, currently having a catch with his dad, loves filling his beach time with paddle ball, sand castles, and batting practice. And much of his play is now independent, which allows my husband and me some personal space without the babysitting help of electronic devices; a welcome change to the family dynamic!

As I listen to Brooks announce the baseball game he is starring in, complete with professional players’ names and stats, I’m surprised that it still chokes me up. My gratitude for the progress Brooks has made has not naturally faded away as I feared it would. Maybe there’s something about the aesthetic beauty of this place that is sharpening my memory, but the days when I could only imagine what my silent toddler’s voice might sound like don’t seem part of the distant past I thought I’d packed away; rather, those days continue to define and inform our family. Right here, right now, on this spectacular stretch of ocean beach, the depth and breadth of how we feel about one another is palpable.

We took a walk down the sand that day in the kind of afternoon light where, as Brooks ran ahead, each of his footprints in the damp sand became translucent, like they had just been touched with the sparkles of a magic wand. As always, my son forges his own unique path, and my husband and I willingly, happily, and lovingly follow.


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