Autism, Grief, Uncategorized, Women's Fight

The Eye of the Sparrow (Part Four)

For about ten years, things were great with our team. We became a little family. We embraced each other’s idiosyncrasies. We invited our spouses and kids to our quarterly get together’s. MF invited all of us to her husband’s 50th party because all he wanted for his birthday was to “jam.” I had never been to a party where they had a real band in the backyard equipped with stage, dance floor, microphone, and instruments. MF’s brothers and brother-in-laws all were musically gifted as well. They all performed and sang on stage, even MF, her husband, her kids. It was by far, the coolest party I had ever attended.

I had planned on sleeping over so I was lucky enough to witness a real “acuostic jam session” between MF, her brothers, sister, nephews, nieces, and her kids etc. Everyone was enjoying drinks and were sitting around with their instruments.  MF nephew asked her if she had heard of the song, “Angel of Montgomery” By John Prine, sang by Bonnie Raitt. MF replied “Kinda”. He said, “All right, Let’s do it.” Her nephew handed her a notebook with the lyrics written inside. All of MF brother’s, nephews etc began playing as if they rehearsed this everyday; which they didn’t. They all had regular jobs but played music for enjoyment.

I always knew MF was a good singer, however, I had never expected to witness what I did that night. I hate to sound like Stepbrothers, but honestly, she did sound like a combination of Fergie and Jesus; as if Bonnie Raitt or the Angel of Montgomery herself was in the room. It was fascinating to watch.  When she was done singing and the guys were all done playing, everyone seemed to say “Whhooooaa” simultaneously.


Soon after, MF’s husband hurt his back really badly while landscaping, his mother died of Alzheimer’s and his business fell apart. He was unemployed and lost.  Meanwhile, their son was approaching high school graduation and becoming a legal adult, which was setting MF and her husband into a tailspin of anxiety and concern about his future. It did not help that MF was going through menopause and this seemed to trigger a new onset of mood disturbance symptoms. She could not sleep, she would fly off the handle and at times it was as if she could not stop talking. One day I teased her and asked her how much coffee she had that day. When she asked Why, I told her she reminded me of Kramer from Seinfeld when he drank too many cafe latte’s. That didn’t go over well 😬.


Thankfully, the Doctor and Rokstar could always get MF laughing no matter what was going on; usually by taking a break and watching a few SNL clips or Thug Life videos. Of course her flying off the handle led to some comical stories. MF would often to refer to herself as a “Straight up Ridah” inspired by “Ambitionz of a Ridah” by Tupac.

Our personal favorite “Ridah” story was when MF got into a debate with a bad ass, hilarious, six foot tall Amazon woman at work. At our next party, the two of them decided to settle this debate by agreeing to disagree and then by having a “dance off”.  Both tenacious women claimed they won and it was an event we still laugh about, mainly because of the “Ridah’s” perspective and comments about it.

Following the dance off party, MF was doing well again for a while, until her family was struck by another tragedy. Her niece that she was extremely close to,  lost her 10 day old full term newborn. Understandably, MF fell apart again, and it seemed to take her much longer to bounce back. This seemed to break her heart and spirit more than anything else ever had. Seeing a beautiful, angelic baby in a bassinet/casket is something that no one should have to witness and it is a traumatizing sight. It is one of those things I deeply wish I could “unsee” because that image is burned in my brain. I cannot fathom the pain that  MF, her family or this baby’s mother had to endure.

One day MF conveyed to us that she finally found comfort from the tragedy in the bible verse Matthew 10:29, 31. It was difficult for her to see God’s plan this time through the baby dying, however her faith helped her find peace. I still was detached from my faith so I ignorantly teased her for being a “Bible Person”. When she explained it to me, I hated to admit it made sense but I had not yet made my peace with God and everything tragic that seemed to happen in this world just kept my resistance alive.


After this incident, MF’s husband to seem to spiral out of control. It seemed he could not cope with the severe back pain, the financial pressure of losing his business, his autistic son’s future, his daughter’s college career and then his wife’s grief and depression. MF was struggling with her husband’s episode because he was always the rock that kept her and her son together. His patience with his son was limitless and MF would frequently say that he has the patience of a saint. However since her husband was self employed, worked alone at home, he did not have time for many friends or a support system of coworkers as MF did.

Rokstar was very concerned when MF did not show up for work February 8th, 2016 and she was not responding to texts or phone calls. Rokstar, The Doctor and I were talking on the phone together three way and we decided that we should stop over at her house to make sure everything was okay. It was snowing and we were thinking something may have happened with their power. Deep down, we all knew something was wrong but unsure what happened.

No one answered the door, it was eerily dark and quiet until the dog started barking. The Doctor called the police on her home phone while the three of us remained on our cell phones together. We all had a sick, nauseous, trembling feeling. The police would not disclose anything to Rokstar and myself except that there was someone deceased in the home and that they would contact us once the identity confirmed.

One can only speculate why MF, her 18 year old son and her husband were found dead in their home. One can only guess what happened based on the information that is known. Ironically I found peace and comfort in “Don’t be afraid, you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” One thing I do know is that when you have a a friend that you love, you do not want to see them in pain. I do believe she is no longer afraid and in pain anymore and does not have to worry about her son’s future because she is right next to him. Additionally, she would be going ballistic everyday if she were here to see Trump president😂.

Autism, Uncategorized, Women's Fight

The Eye on the Sparrow (Part Three)

Once ML (Mom-Lady) grasped the job and had some good days at work, she calmed down and was able to become MF (Mom-Friend) again. MF was able to recognize how her anxiety literally hijacked her brain and her fear of feeling inadequate or stupid triggered some massive shame.  MF also reluctantly went back to counseling and shifted her mindset; coming up with a “new normal” about her dreams for her family.

MF always had a hilarious spin on everything. Her impressions of people were on point and she had our coworkers, doctors and even patients erupting with laughter. Most of all, her therapeutic interventions with patients were professional, empathetic and real. She was extremely compassionate and went above and beyond with each patient. MF had the patients laughing and sometimes was able to “roll with” where ever our patients were. If the patient needed to sing, she would sing with them. If they needed to pray, she prayed with them. She danced with patients in the hallways if that is what they needed to do.

Some of her escapades with patients led to some hysterical stories, hashtagable phrases and our team developed an almost secret language of inside jokes. This “language” originated it seemed, when MF, (a five foot two, petite, Irish, woman with glasses) began dancing with a six foot five African American Male who was in the greatest mood of his life thanks to his manic episode and auditory hallucinations of Motown music playing.

His euphoria led him to believe that this was a kick ass time and he was eternally grateful to be sitting in the ER hallway that we all referred to as the last stop before HELL.

He thought his ER visit was awesome and jam-packed with good times. The lucky ones to witness this dance routine could hear this male yelling “It’s gonna be a good time!” He was also doing that grunt sound like James Brown as if he just consumed the most delicious, satisfying meal of his existence. Meanwhile, MF was donning a protruding-lower-lip-pouting-smile, shaking her head back and forth in agreement as she were saying “Damn Right”. #itsgonnabeagoodtime

I rarely worked with MF but when I did, I could see the cohesive connections she had formed with each of our coworkers. MF and the Doctor ended up having tons of pop culture tastes in common and watching the two of them have a discussion or debate was mind-blowing. MF and Rokstar ended up being two peas in a pod and they discovered that Rokstar was basically a younger version of MF.  MF and the Seasoned Social Worker (SSW) both were avid newspaper readers and would have in-depth, intellectual and political discussions. Lucy and MF had this sister relationship where they would talk about their daughters and husbands; laugh hysterically together yet have these emotional arguments about work and make up like family. Unfortunately for the Doctor, MF and Lucy would seem to always have these heated fights while working with her and she was awkwardly stuck; like the middle child. Then Lucy, the doctor and MF would all laugh about it later.

MF and The Hunter had opposing political views, yet they both possesed a dark and dirty sense of humor (thanks to MF’s three brothers). They would be crying laughing about raunchy things then switch gears into a heated political argument; he would enjoy getting her all riled up and pissed off just like a brother would. MF and The Barber were about the same age and they clicked when discussing their generation and their kids.  MF loved jewelry, flowers and fashion which was the topic of discussion between her and The Movie Star; who was also the biggest fan of her impressions. If you were a strong-minded, opinionated, independent woman, LOOK OUT, because you were bound to butt heads and get into it with MF as Kendall, NaeNae, CeCe, and Jacquaylan did. They would always resolve it laughing while maintaining mutual respect agreeing to disagree.

Eventually MF became comfortable with her new normal and found the humor in many of her son’s rigid views. She would have all of us cracking up with stories of epic failures in trying to beat the spectrum. “CFG!Delete!” was another coin phrase after MF and her husband attempted to get their son to broaden his palette besides chicken nuggets, fries and grapes. This attempt was met with rage as her son burst through the door exclaiming “CFG! Delete.” Translation: “Delete that bullshit lunch you gave me. Get me Chicken nuggets, fries and grapes immediately.” #cfgdelete

MF would share her initial mortification of being at parties where her son would say his version of “thanks for having us” when leaving as “Thank you for the chicken, it was kinda disgusting.” She would obviously laugh privately and most of the time agreed with his brutal honesty. Her son would lecture anyone who would listen about the fact he knew the names of the all of the editors, costume designers, sound effects specialists, stunt doubles, and other random titles of people involved in movies that most people do not pay attention to. MF, her husband, her son and her daughter all possessed musical talent and amazing singing voices. Her son would belt out songs anywhere, even during class and all his peers and teachers would stop and listen because it was too beautiful to interrupt him.

When MF was happy and in a good place, she was unstoppable and intoxicating to anyone around her. You felt lit up as if the sun was shining just for you. When she was not in a good place, it felt lonely, cold and dark to be near her. Things that put her in a bad place seemed to be anything that triggered shame. An example, MF refused to watch the movie Shrek 2 because her son was unable to stop talking during the movie, a woman complained and they were asked to leave the theater. Her son was too busy going through the first Shrek movie dialogue in his head and reciting it out loud to care; however MF and her husband did. They were heartbroken and beginning to see the signs that being on the spectrum in junior high was more evident and not so cute anymore.  This triggered more fear and shame in MF, which led her husband to want to fix it and make her happy again. He could not bear to be in the cold and dark place and longed to be in her shining presence again.

MF was able to snap out of it fairly quickly with some good laughs, connection and her faith. She knew when she was being a “debbie downer” and would slip into character doing Rachel Dratch’s facial expressions and the “wah wah”.  She enjoyed singing at church, watching her daughter sing at church and seeing her siblings in a good place. MF was too cool for school and you would actually forget she was a mom sometimes because she seemed too in touch with everything. She was caught up with the latest binge worthy netflix shows, could jam to Missy Elliott, Ed Sheeran and Adele. If MF was singing, you knew she was in good place. However, for the Doctor and I, who also enjoyed singing; we felt completely inadequate singing around her because our voices sounded like sick dogs. MF could stop a party with her voice.

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

-Civilia D. Martin


Autism, Uncategorized, Women's Fight

The Eye on the Sparrow (Part Two)

A few weeks before my wedding, my brother got into a terrible car accident. It truly was an accident, however, one girl died and others were badly injured. My brother was arrested and we weren’t sure if he was going to be able to attend my wedding. My mom, sisters and I were so devastated and scared. I was a mess at work and of course I fell apart the second I saw my Mom-Friend (MF).

I was angry. I was SO angry that it hurt. I was so angry at God for doing this to my family. “How much more is my family supposed to take?” I said to MF. I had disclosed to MF many of my family’s hardships and she confided in me many of her family’s hardships as well. Somehow we both had the same gift of laughing in the face of adversity.

“Believe me honey, I know. I ask that question quite often.” MF said genuinely. She gave me hug and I was slobbering all over her shoulder so I started to laugh. MF said “You can use my shirt as a Kleenex, really it’s okay.” I laughed, red faced, with a stuffy nose. MF took a deep breath and said “I am sorry I told you to get some real problems. Jeez, you showed me up.” I laughed again and so did MF.

Thinking about the people injured in this accident and the family of the girl that died made my wedding seem like such a trivial occurrence in this life. Thinking of my brother, terrified in jail and coping with the guilt of the accident weighing on his shoulders made my wedding day seem so stupid in the big scheme of things.  I get the lesson God, get off my balls. 

Thankfully my brother was released and was able to attend my wedding.  I hated to admit it but this tragedy occurring  with such a joyous outcome made my wedding so much more meaningful for me. There definitely was a shift in my faith and I was still pissed at God; but this situation caused me to care less about the actual wedding and focus more on enjoying the moment with my family.

However, going back to the office space job after my honeymoon was exceptionally painful; like that kind of nauseous and disgusted pain. I remember I went roller blading in the morning before I had to take the train and part of me was secretly hoping I would get hit by a car so I wouldn’t have to go to work (whisper…red flag.) Google Kristen Wiig’s SNL skit Red Flag.


Clearly I knew I had to starting looking for another job. Eventually, I received a call from my graduate school buddy, Rokstar, about a job she loved at a hospital. I interviewed with an older lady, then a doctor and a seasoned social worker. Later, only to discover my fly was unzipped the entire interview. I got the job anyways.

It was difficult to leave my work gals, but I told them that if I would rather get hit by a car then come to work; then my leaving is definitely for my own safety. (whisper…red flag) We all laughed. Mom-Friend (MF) was happy for me, sad and pissed at me simultaneously. (MF) had already applied at the same hospital as soon as I told her I had an interview.

My first shift was with the doctor I interviewed with and she turned out to be extremely laid back, fun and enjoyable.

“First we will have breakfast, I really do not like to talk until after 8am unless I have to.” The Doctor said confidently. Fine by me. I am not a morning person either. We enjoyed breakfast in silence and then we began “training”. The Doctor’s version of training was talking about pop culture and we had many genre’s in common. The Doctor explained that the only real way to learn this job is shadowing and then just to do it. Again, Fine by me, this job rocks. 

MF also got a job in my new department and she began a month after me. One thing I didn’t anticipate was MF turned right back into Mom-Lady (ML); anxious, stressed, bitchy. She wasn’t cool with the laid back training process and began asking the Doctor multiple questions upon her arrival at 7am despite my warning to not talk to the Doctor until after 8am.

“Well you are a chatty one, aren’t ya?” The Doctor said to ML.

ML called me the second she arrived home from her first shift. ML was extremely pissed off about her experience “training”. I wanted to laugh when ML told me what the Doctor had said to her. I reminded myself that this was just ML anxiety talking and once she feels more comfortable, she will become MF again. Day after Day I arrived home happy and grateful as hell. Day after Day I received intense, stressful calls from ML.


Finally, I ended my training period and was thrown into the job.  I thrived in the hectic, chaotic environment and I laughed all day long with my co-workers. I was so grateful to my graduate school friend, Rokstar, for calling me about this job. Rokstar was happy with my initiation into this job, however, she struggled with ML as I did. Each shift I worked, I would hear more stories about everyone struggling with  ML. I didn’t know what to do or how to handle it.

I noticed that in the entire time I have known ML, she has NEVER once complained about her husband, her kids or anything else besides work and the news.  MF was so enamored and proud of her family! Her face would completely light up when talking about her daughter and laugh when talking about her son. She spoke so lovingly about her husband. Her husband would make her lunch everyday and drive her to work so she would not have to walk in the cold through the mile-long parking lot.

I was the opposite where I found myself bitching about everything else except work. I seemed to joke around about work and our boss. Fortunately, this is how everyone else was at work and we related to each other; which was maybe why ML was struggling. ML took work extremely seriously. I brought this to ML attention one day we met for lunch; concerned that she was so fixated on the problems at work and I commended her that she never complained about her husband or kids. ML was quiet for a long time and then I saw her chin was trembling and her eyes began to well up with tears.

“I can’t complain about my family because if I did I would start to cry.” MF said with a quivering voice. “My life is my kids. My daughter and I do nice things together and I am so into her plays and activities; but at the same time my heart breaks for her. I want her to soar and not be held back by us. I fear she will be forced to take care of her brother when my husband and I are gone. I do not want that for her. I am not sure if my son will be able to take care of himself. The school seems to be trying to prepare us for his future autonomy. They have been providing us with information on residential facilities if we do not have family that will care for him if anything happens to us. I tell my husband all the time I better go before he does because my heart cannot take that kind of pain. I want my daughter’s dreams to come true.” I was completely crying now.

“I mean, let’s be real. I can’t really complain about the struggle I have with my son’s Autism because I probably sound like an asshole to them. If I show them a picture, he looks fine. He is completely adorable. If one more person tells me that my “Son looks fine” I am going to snap. No one could possibly know what it is like until they walk in my shoes. My problems are different than everyone else. I am ANGRY. I am angry that there is Autism.  I am angry at God for doing this to my family. I have already been through so much, how much more do I have to take?” MF said. It was silent for a while, I had no idea what to say. I could not say “I understand” because I don’t. I felt that would sound ignorant because I have no idea what it is like for her. I am not even a mom yet.

“Jeez, get some real problems.” I said to her. I bit my lips trying not to laugh. I could see a smirk emerge on my MF face. Now I totally understood when MF told me to get some real problems when I was complaining about my wedding dress.

Get some real problems is right.