In a house where a ‘crazy day’ is the standard, Thursday was one of those days when everything was just a bit more wacky than normal. One of those days that gets completely rearranged because a kid wakes up sick…reschedule appointments, call the pediatrician, take the kid in for a strep test (positive), run to the grocery store, drug store, physical therapy for a knee injury, get kids off the bus, snacks for everyone, dispense Motrin, Allergy meds, and antibiotics as needed…but all along, I knew that if I could just make it to the evening, I’d end up with a major payoff: tickets to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
And, like the day needed any more nuttiness thrown in, my smartphone lit up and buzzed all day with news reports of the latest CDC statistic: 1 in 88. Deep breath, eye roll. One in eighty eight children (one in fifty four boys) is now diagnosed with autism.
Another deep breath, another eye roll. Autism awareness month is coming in April, so I have come to expect a full-court press of Autism in the news this time of year. But sometimes it kind of sneaks up on me. And sometimes, I’m just not sure what I can do about it. One in eighty-eight.
As quickly as the new statistic tried to assault me, I deflected it. Not today. Not right now. Don’t suck me in. Not while I’m taking Elena’s temperature for the fourth time and trying to count backwards to figure out when she can have her next dose of Motrin. Not while I’m reminding Ryan to finish his math homework. Certainly not while I’m digging through the stacks of CDs looking for my copy of Greetings from Asbury Park (which I never found, by the way…but I did discover that we own three –THREE!—copies of Born to Run).
Eventually we made it out the door to the concert. While munching on crab fries and sipping a beer before the concert began, Randy and I had a brief discussion of the new statistic. We chuckled over Randy’s darkly comic suggestion that we reassure friends and family who had, with best of intentions, brought the stat to our attention by telling them, “Don’t worry! We are your ‘one’! As long as you don’t meet more than 88 kids, you’re safe!” or “In our house, it’s one in THREE!”
Then we had another beer, and moved on. Made our way to our seats for the show (arguably the worst seats in the house—second to last row behind the stage), and the lights dimmed as Bruce took the stage.
And, as promised, the world fell away. We Take Care of our Own. Waiting on a Sunny Day. The Promised Land. For those of you who have never experienced a Springsteen concert, the closest I can describe it is…it’s like church. Not fear-and-guilt church. Raucous, spiritual, feel-it-in-your-bones, connection with humanity sort of church. Like stumbling into a revival, or the Gospel tent at Jazz Fest.
The Rising. Rocky Ground. The names alone read like sermon titles. And, somewhere, somehow, beautifully and magically enough, I became wonderfully unaware of autism. Unaware of statistics and predictions and behaviors. Unaware of IEP meetings, psychologists, and therapists. Unaware of anything but thousands of people dancing and singing in unison. Kicking the ground and raising their fists. Dancing, smiling, and cheering.
For three hours last night, I became unaware of everything in the outside world, and incredibly, powerfully aware of myself as part of a whole. Of the power of music and soul and spirit. Of harmony and humanity; of raising the dead and raising hell.
There is no one in eighty-eight. There is one that is part of a larger whole. Everyone in that arena is a one-in-something. Everyone is facing some statistic. And everyone laid down their burdens and their fear to be one with each other, in three hours of joy and music. We were aware that we are all connected; that we are all part of one community. We are one.
That is my statistic. We are one.