Her name is Katrina. He was four. I was lost.
My son was diagnosed with autism at age four and my world’s axis tilted. I wasn’t sure what to do, what to say, who to ask for help…I just knew I was thrust into the world of autism and had no clue what it meant.
When my brother heard our news he spoke with an acquaintance of his – someone he trusted would be the person I needed most even though she had never met me. Her name is Katrina. Her son, also four at the time, had been diagnosed with autism a couple years earlier. Without truly realizing it at the time, Katrina became my hero.
We talked on the phone a few times. She sat quietly while I cried into the phone unable to speak. She welcomed me into the world of autism. She talked about her son and we made connections between our boys. She gave me hope. She gave me strength.
And just as quickly as she entered my life, this guiding and non-judging and kind soul, she was out. We lost touch, maybe only meeting in person once or twice at an autism support class years ago.
Son and I and our family went through support groups, 101 classes, charity work, thousands of hours of therapy, hundreds of hours of research, dozens of hours of IEP meetings. I learned to love our autism world, having introduced me to the most amazing people I’ve ever met.
I think of Katrina so often, with a goal of being other people’s Katrina as much as I can. When I hear of a new family entering our world I tell them the story of My Katrina and and what she did for me and ask if I can help be their Katrina. I’ve talked on the phone with new autism moms, new autism grandmas, new autism uncles. Some I’ve never met.
Fast forward to today. I was wandering a store and saw her.
I left her alone not wanting to be that person…and I left the store. I came out of the next store and she was standing outside. It was a sign I tell you! I walked up to her, asked if she was My Katrina. I introduced myself as “you probably don’t remember me…” She did. I told her she was my inspiration and my hope and my hero. Then I teared up. The inner voice who usually screams, “Keep it together woman!” was silent. Katrina gave me a huge hug, asked how my son was doing, and introduced me to her son. Same age, same beauty shooting like stars out of his eyes and a gorgeous smile.
Thank you, Katrina. Most likely you’ll never see this. Most likely you’ll never know exactly how much you mean to me always and forever. Most likely our sons will be just fine.
Thank you, Katrina. Thank you.