Unconditional Love

Unconditional (1)

“Oooh…” Walking toward the couch Cade murmured. “You don’t sit on the glass.” Like a bandit with a guilty conscience, Cade proceeded to give himself away. “Now you broke it.”

Unfortunately, I knew exactly what he meant. Cade has been punching and breaking glass as a means of dealing with his migraines. Glass windows, glass frames, glass mirrors — a happy home is a shattered home, I always say. Autism has given Cade a limited ability to verbalize and sometime it just feels good to break shit. I understand. However, just like that annoying algebra teacher we all hated, I am determined to teach Cade a less destructive, less expensive and less dangerous way of coping.

  • (A) Razor Sharp Edges + (B) Fists of Fury = (C) Catastrophe.

Concerned with the possibility of him severely hurting himself, I googled images of graphic hand injuries.

“This is what could happen if you continue to punch glass.” Turning my head, I puked a little in my mouth. “Do you want this to happen to you?”

The stunned look on his face told me that he finally got it. Or so I thought. Well, at least he stopped punching glass. With only two windows currently in need of replacement, I sighed. This morning however, made three. “You don’t sit on the glass.” I followed my gut to the window beside Cade’s bed. Unfortunately, my gut was right. “I should have known he would try this.” I told myself repeatedly. The logic being, if you can’t punch glass just sit on it until it breaks.

This  morning Cade’s allergies were hard-hitting. Although springtime in the Carolina’s is beautiful it can be quite brutal. “Brutiful” is a good word to describe it.  It was a brutiful morning! Lying in bed I gazed at the blooming dogwoods. The dawn chorus signaled the start of a new day.

“You don’t sit on glass.” Cade warned himself between sneezes.

“Are you all right?” I opened the door to his room.

“Daddy,” he went on. “You don’t sit on the glass.”

“No Cade. You don’t sit on the glass.” The glossed look in his eyes signaled that a migraine was on the way. Determined to stop his headache in its tracks, I returned with two Excedrin and an allergy pill.

“Here buddy. This will help.”

Confident that I prevented a major outburst, I googled graphic butt injuries. A word of caution: If you see a link that reads “pounding that ass,” its not the same thing. Five more minutes of sneezing followed by five more minutes of stomping. Then all became calm inside Cade’s room.

“Oooh… You don’t sit on the glass. Now you broke it.” It was just a couple minutes past seven in the morning when Cade sat on the sunken cushion of our beat up couch. It too had become a punching bag of sorts. The remaining fragments of the insulated window illustrated a life of chronic pain. Slowly and carefully, I guided my index finger across the cracked surface. The tiny shards reminded me of how fragile our lives can be. How quickly our comfort and well being can turn to agony and our happiness to despair. My son has gifted me with unconditional love. If broken glass is my price to pay for unconditional love, I’ll bust out every damn window in the house and relish in the April breeze.

Parenting — nobody said it was going to be easy or inexpensive. The worry, the grief, the endless trips to Home Depot. Although my checkbook has been drained, my heart has been filled. My life before Cade was a flip phone. Convenient and tried-and-true, I had no need for anything else. No need whatsoever. After all, things were just fine the way they were.  I now have the ability to learn a foreign language, monitor my heart rate and find the nearest Starbucks right in the palm of my hands. Cade was the update my internal operating system so desperately needed.

Unconditional love, what does it really mean? It means loving someone regardless of the physical and emotional scars that they have caused. It means loving them for who they truly are. It means loving someone even at their most unlovable moments. When you love someone unconditionally, you love them just because. Approaching Cade on the couch, I kept a stern face. “Don’t ever break glass again. Not with your hands. Not with your butt. Not with any single part of your body.”

Silence descended over the room as I gave him a menacing glare. Squinching his face as if he ate a Sour Patch Kid for the first time, Cade turned his head toward me.

“No…” He cleared his throat.

Struggling to hold a mean mug, I was laughing on the inside. That face he makes just does something to me. In my best drill sergeant voice, I demanded clarification. “Do you understand?”

“You don’t break glass.” Speaking of himself in the third person, he continued. “You might cut yourself. You might get blood all over the place. You might get your hand cut off… get your foot cut off… get your face cut off… get your ass cut off.”

And for this lesson, I thank you Google.


Kelly Jude Melerine