Emma and Martin Luther King share a birthday. It remains to be seen if they will share anything else. Perhaps one day Emma will be a persuasive speaker perhaps she too will express her abhorrence of violence and injustice. It’s impossible to know, as Emma is autistic.
Yesterday Emma turned nine. She has a lifetime ahead of her to tell us what she cares about and how she feels about things.
On Sunday we had a party for her and despite my concern that few children were able to make it, it turned out to be lovely and Emma had a blast. A number of our friends made the effort to come to the gym we rented for an hour and a half and afterward a group of us returned to our place for gumbo and birthday cake. Emma was ecstatic – not so much with the gumbo, which she didn’t eat, but the gymnastics party, her guests, the birthday cake, complete with candles and song and all the attention.
Later, Emma disappeared into her bedroom.
“Mom! Mom! Look!” Nic yelled.
“You have to see this,” Richard said from the doorway into Emma’s bedroom.
There Emma was, sitting up in her bed, wearing a pair of brand new birthday pajamas, her head resting on a new matching pillow and a padded eye cover around her neck.
Emma wearing her new PJ’s
Several of us crowded into her room, like subjects attempting to catch the attention of a queen. We “oohed” and “aahed” as she opened each gift presented to her one by one by her brother, Nic.
Emma feeding her new “Geneva” groovy girl
Emma Monday morning with her new baby doll
Now for most parents all of this must seem rather mundane and hardly worth documentation, particularly documenting to the degree we have. But for Emma, this was a first. It marked the first birthday she took any genuine delight in opening her gifts and once the gift was opened, took actual pleasure in playing with each present. Emma sat happily in her bed, her admirers clamored around in adoration, Nic raced back and forth carrying each gift to her as if it were the Holy Grail itself.
And perhaps to Emma, it was.