Is it to early to pray for Spring? I know it’s just January. But I am tired and exhausted with winter and Omicron. The thought of Spring seems soothing. I saw yesterday on New York Times, that parents with kids under 5 are in despair. The stress of the pandemic has brought many of us to our breaking point. Our children under 5 cannot become vaccinated. Omicron is surging along unperturbed. Meanwhile, every time I drop my kids under 5, I keep wondering if I am sane or insane for letting them live as if Omicron is not around the corner. Everyone at this point knows someone that had gotten the virus. And Omicron doesn’t really care. Then I looked outside my house this morning. I looked as saw black birds flocking around. It’s been awhile since I looked intently at nature and seeing these birds this morning helped me remember to live, helped me crave for Spring. The bipolar nature of weather in Saint Louis doesn’t help, but at this point the thought of birds and flowers, helped me get through feelings of exhaustion. It also inspired this little thing to keep that I wrote for myself this morning.

I keep rising again, yet things on my mind, pull me down, dragging me deep, down into the ocean foundation, the despair, failures, the self-doubt, all linger like a fortress of solid rock, pulling me down.

I keep avoiding again, the magic, the love, burrowed deep into words that become doors, with vision among stars, words that lead to openings for healing, gifts of restoration, many I crave right now, to help me remember why all this began.

Then I remember to bloom like flowers. Black birds are all round. They see plants transitioning into flowers. I see myself initiating my flowering again. The tips of myself, becoming clusters of flowers again. Together, we are becoming a collection of meristems, generating a collection of undifferentiated cells, that slowly become organs within unpredictable environments again.

Now, I choose to keep protecting all that makes us fragile. Attracting things that help us reproduce. Generating seeds that helps us grow. All of us together, in our bright colors, keep rising again, keep coming into our bloom again.

Yesterday we began an adventure into 8 days of Christmas fun.

In fact, we are living our lives through a book written and illustrated by my daughter.

All I can say is that because of her, my world is Belle.

Like Lotanna Belle, there are no limits.

She is one who opens our hearts to truly remember the love of our fathers, every time, beautifully.

Belle, writes, and illustrates, and shows us love that reminds me of my father’s sweet embrace.

She lives out her live in words more elegant than sweet. An elegant love. Her love burrows deeply into my heart. Deeply like a stone, crushing it, until it’s all love. That’s what reading my daughter’s words does to me these days.

A world fully Belle is genuinely Belle.

There is a Belle in all things, all around my world and this Christmas is Belle all because of her. I am loved. She makes me remember the elegant love my father showered on us this time of the year too. He is so missed.

Born in the year of a pandemic, I remember when he started to crawl. He crawled as if he was ready to walk. He walked when he turned 9 months. He has been walking ever since. Late last month, we started to remove all the protective features around our stairs. By this month, we removed all of them. We had quite a few and the thought of a fall was forever on our minds. I knew we would get here one day. Just didn’t want the day to come so soon. Watching him grow has been everything. Now my baby walks up and down the stairs all on his own. He has mastered the stairs too all on his own. And that’s a feat worth celebrating. This is also what it means to be a toddler. Every aspect of his being, full and free. Wisdom he never knew now blossoms through his life with delight. Watching as he follows directly in its path even with walking up and down the stairs is a prayer answered fully. There is no end to your treasures and like an olive tree you are loaded with fruits that will continue to tower to the clouds with every step you take, even up and down these stairs. Keep moments like this.

I am raising a boy whose on the spectrum. He is becoming more than I ever dreamed of. More than I ever hoped for. More than I ever thought he would become. He is also doing it his way. Sometimes his ways are out of sight. We are all astound. Here is a boy that barely said a word at 3. A boy for whom meltdowns were all he knew. Until things changed. I still pinch myself as I have not really taken the time to truly uncover all we did in the beginning. And we did a lot.

If you told me back then that we would get to this place one day, I would not believe you. He was kicked out of his first school at age 2 after attending for 2 days. The odds were completely against us. My own child was kicked out of school before he could say his name. I still remember crying by myself that day wondering where to begin. I remember calling a helpline for special needs kids in Georgia that day too. The person on the other line had to have been an Angel. After briefly chatting with her calming me down, she asked what we both did for a living. I said I was a researcher and dad was a resident in neurology. Her response, I wouldn’t worry to much about your son then. I asked why. She said because we would both use our gifts for him and that’s more than most kids on the spectrum would have. Looking back, she was right. When we learnt through research that a drug for cancer had speech properties, my son was on it. When he had a series of nonstop laughing episode, and my husband remembered something about the brain and laughter, my son’s brain was observed via EEG which uncovered mini seizures while he slept. Our gifts were indeed useful for him.

Today at age seven, I keep pinching myself every time I have a heart to heart with him or watch as he reads a book. These days Dog man’s series are all he knows. All he is obsessed about. That he reads makes my heart swell. His ways are still forming, still making sense of this world, still stimming, still repeating things that make no sense, still involves play that makes no sense too, but all of it, all his ways are perfect by design. These days, I would not trade any of this for any sense of normalcy. Not with him. He is perfect by design and even when he tries, all his ways are good. It’s the smallest things with him, the hugs, the meltdowns too, all of them combine, remind me just how blessed we are as a family. To be in the midst of a child on the spectrum is a blessing. One that I am extremely thankful I got to witness with my own eyes. Today he is in a Christmas play in school. The boy who barely spoke at 2, was kicked out of school at 2 as well, is in a play at school at 7. His ways remain out of sight with great days and days with good tries. The sky is not a limit and I remain hopeful for what the future will bring his way.

There he is. My son. My blessed son. His brother Olisa takes cares for him. And together they are blessed. I am blessed just reading this. The universe keeps opening and my son’s keep receiving. Keep blessed sons, blessed boys who are loved and ready to take on the world.

Simple words are all we need to touch each other. To feel, to wonder, to love all that makes us whole. I am learning the power of simple. The power of soft words, like velvet gently brushed across my skin. The power of inclusive words too that wrap us all together like a fuzzy blanket on a cold winter night. The power of memorable words, unforgettable ones that tell how sweet it is to be loved by you. The power of paradise words, all of them that speak of the bliss we all know truly exists in heaven. The power of loving words, living words too that help us all rise up on wings like eagles. The power of enlightening words, those that let you bloom where you are planted for your light was never meant to be hidden. The power of simple words are profound, easy, effortless, sincere, honest, open, direct, pure, comfortable, uncomplicated, coherent, just, straightforward, elementary, natural, undemanding, plain, innocent, real, and light. So too are the words through which my kids gifted me with this Thanksgiving. Simple words that are as warm as a hug from loved ones this season. Simple words that share all they are thankful for. Keep simple, like Happy Thanksgiving. I am happy and thankful for you all. I give thanks to you all. That’s all.

We started the day in church and ended it on a hayride across our village. We were covered in hay and my heart was full. This Halloween was fun and something I didn’t know my soul truly needed. For all the loss, for all the pain, for even all the heartache, it was simply glorious, I tell you, downright splendid to see our kids just be kids and happiness flow like waters that run deep. I wouldn’t trade this happy place for anything. This forever gift my children continually gift to me. Happy Halloween and may yours lead you to treats full of happiness.