Dear child,

I see you looking out the window. I know your heart is heavy with disappointment—I see it in your eyes.

You try your best to understand what’s happening around you, but this is something too big for you to grasp.

I’ve been trying my best to explain to you why you won’t be getting up for school tomorrow or why you don’t need to tell me it’s pizza Tuesday.

I’ve been trying to find a way to tell you that you may not return to school to get your favorite sneakers or the smelly markers you brought in. Your books still sit at your desk, your locker still filled with your artwork and photos of better days before. You left your extra socks behind—they will be too small for you when you get them back. 

I’m so sad for you. Your world came to a halt, and there was no warning. 

Everything was taken away from you without notice, that’s the hardest for you I know. I’m usually full of ideas on how to prepare you, but I feel I am failing you now. The truth is, I’ve never had to prepare for something like this, so I don’t have the answers. 

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You saw me washing your backpack and asked me why I was doing that. I tell you it’s because it had collected dust and had stains on it. You walk away and I close the door to cry. The sound of the washing machine muffles my pain.

There will be no year-end graduations, cake, or balloons. There will be no graduation and friends laughing in photos. Our lazy, hazy June days of last goodbyes welcoming summer bliss, now a distant memory we once had. 

I try to fill your days with what I know will make you happy.

I’m trying to focus on teaching you how to wash dishes and clean around the yard. We bake muffins, and play with water beads, and paint. We watch online tutorials, and we search for apps that will keep your attention. I try to teach you the best way I know how, but there are some things only a classroom can do. So I pray you have this someday soon, again. 

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The days are hard for you. You keep asking me to do the things you once loved to do.

Your swimming. 

Your horseback riding.

Your trampoline gym.

Your park. 

Yes, even the park has been taken away from you. And it breaks me.

But you are strong.

Stronger than me. I see you amusing yourself with your activities. I hear you pretending to be the characters in your books. I hear you laughing aloud to the jokes of your favorite shows. You forget sometimes there is nowhere to go.

We will make it through this, I promise.

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We will remember our dances in the kitchen, our long walks, and our drives at night looking for the moon. We will remember pancakes for dinner and pizza for breakfast. We will remember no alarms or rushing to get to places—the time is now slower than it used to be.

So stay brave my child as you are right now. And I will promise to do the same.

Maria Garito

Maria Garito is the mother of special needs Autistic child living in Ontario, Canada. As a teacher, her advocacy is focused on education supports and programs. She also writes about mental health and chronic illness.