Tonight, Martin thanked God for the opportunity to go to the grocery store. Some nights, Martin can't or won't say anything when we ask him if he is thankful for anything or if something in his day made him happy. Unless we prompt him with some of the events from the day, he looks at us with searching eyes and says, "I don't know."
On his good days, Martin can come up with an answer to the thankfulness question. Today, he had a good day at school. Then he had a good visit with his speech therapist. Although he wouldn't touch the posole I made for dinner, he ate carrots, applesauce, and homemade bread. When he was finished, he accompanied us to the grocery store. He wore sunglasses as he rode in a cart with his sister. When the bagger put the bags in our trunk, Martin thanked the young man for each one. And when the bagger closed the door, Martin called out, "Um....thank you....thank you....um, have a good one."
Martin rode home in the car, talking about how dark it was with his sunglasses. He walked into our house and did a pretty good job going through his bedtime routine. Before his prayer, he told me to make the blankets and pillow into a birdhouse for him to sleep in. Pretending like I know how to make a birdhouse out of blankets, I industriously folded the blankets around him, patting them when the birdhouse was finished. He seemed ready to go to bed. That's when he thanked God about going to the grocery store.
I'm thankful too. I have to remember that if Martin were my child 20 years ago, we might have been told that he would never speak. We might have been encouraged to institutionalize him. Or we might have been told he was hopelessly disabled. Though many of our days are challenging, I have to remember that the challenge is a gift. The doctors and the teachers and the therapists are trying so hard because they believe it is possible for Martin to learn to speak, to understand, and to have meaningful relationships.
And to love wearing sunglasses to the grocery store.