Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Possible Dream

A few days ago, my friend and colleague Debbie posted on her Facebook page that when she taught the vocabulary word quest this week, she suddenly burst into singing “The Impossible Dream,” in which quest is a key part of the lyrics. Unfamiliar with the musical Man of La Mancha, her students had never heard that inspirational song. As she noted, we are too busy preparing students for standardized tests that we often miss out on teaching them “glorious knowledge,” which makes her sad. However, she believed this lesson was too valuable to miss and showed a You Tube video of the song, which impressed her students. In fact, I’ll bet that when they look back on her class, “The Impossible Dream” will stand out in their memories much more than any state-imposed standards.

When I was learning to play piano in the 1970’s, many of the songs I learned came from musicals. After seeing The Sting, I wanted to learn to play “The Entertainer,” and I also learned to play one of my favorite songs at the time, “Day By Day” from Godspell. I suspect I drove my family crazy as I repeatedly played on the piano “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Fiddler on the Roof” from the popular musical of the same name. As I recall, my mom would instead request that I played “A Time for Us” from Romeo and Juliet, which she found more harmonious. In addition, I learned how to play “The Impossible Dream” and tried to master the dramatic flourish I felt it deserved. Kids today don’t know what they’re missing by not being familiar with those great songs.

Yesterday, I found myself humming “The Impossible Dream” throughout the day and even looked up the lyrics to make sure I remembered them correctly. As I read these words after many years of not thinking about them, I realized that they spoke to my life as an autism mom, always striving and seeking to help Alex overcome obstacles.

“To dream the impossible dream
 To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go…

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest…”
“The Impossible Dream” lyrics by Joe Darion

On the days that dealing with autism no longer feels like a “glorious quest” and feels more like an exercise in frustration, I have to dig deep in my faith to remember how important making Alex better truly is. Fortunately, Alex, who has the childlike faith Jesus describes, reminds me to be patient and to never give up. The other night I asked his opinion about an event that might happen in the future, and he looked directly at me and simply said, “W.A.S.” Clueless as to what that answer meant, I asked him about his response. He explained, “W.A.S.—wait and see.” Of course, this is one of Alex’s standard responses to many questions; he has enough faith to wait for outcomes and trusts that everything will be fine in the end.

Last night, he was watching a Chicago Cubs baseball game on television with Ed; he has become a big Cubs fan and is delighted that they have a great team this year. However, in the sixth inning, the opposing team scored seven runs, putting the Cubs behind with a score of 9-3. Ed, who tends to be more pragmatic than optimistic, basically wrote off the game then and there. Alex, on the other hand, was not ready to throw in the towel, knowing that there were more innings to play. Using his standard “Wait and see” line, Alex never gave up hope until the last inning, even though the Cubs eventually lost 13-5. As Ed noted, Alex is the true Cubs fan since Cubs fans have always been known to dismiss losing seasons by saying, “Wait ‘til next year.” Hopefully, Alex’s optimism will be rewarded with a winning team this season so that he doesn’t have to wait too long.

After the baseball game, Ed supervised Alex’s bedtime routine instead of me because I have a cold and wasn’t feeling well. After listening to Alex’s bedtime prayers, Ed commented that Alex is so earnest in his prayers, making sure that he doesn’t forget to name anyone in the list of people he wants God to bless. I have to believe that God appreciates Alex’s pure love for others, his trusting faith, and his unending hope. As I keep working toward this seemingly impossible dream of complete healing for Alex, I know that with God all things are possible. I have to believe that He hears the earnest prayers of my beloved son and whispers in his ear, “Wait and see.”

“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26


Anonymous said...

This is so beautiful. Alex truly teaches you patience. That Bible verse you use at the end is also great. Yes, wait and see God's plan unfold.

Pam Byrne said...

Thanks so much, Astrid, for your kind comments. Hope you are doing well.

Take care,