Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Caroline McGraw, featuring an excerpt from her book, Love's Subversive Stance: Ground Yourself and Grow in Relationship.
When I was a little girl, I don’t remember having a firm concept of God, specifically. Yet I do remember having a very clear idea of what heaven would be like. I believed that heaven would be just this: a place where I could talk freely with my brother Willie.
It would be a place without the limits of autism on his part or lack of knowledge on mine, a place where I could ask him a question and receive a complete answer. I remember wanting to ask him about the details of our life; I wanted to know if Cheerios were really his favorite cereal or if he ate them simply because that’s what Mom bought. I wanted then what I want now: a window into his mind and heart.
Yet maybe, just maybe, I can only see in part because to see fully would be too much beauty to bear.
For me, heeding this wisdom means that, even as I hope for heaven, I look for those sudden windows into my brother’s mind and heart now.
I remember a time one such ‘window’ opened: during the long-ago era when my brother was obsessed with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. He had (still has) all seven stuffed dwarves, and he loved to line them up. He referred to himself as ‘Grumpy’ or ‘Happy’ depending on his mood. I realize now that the film was probably an excellent way for him to learn about identifying emotion, since each dwarf is typecast and consistent in facial expression throughout the story.
One day, my parents asked him, “Willie, if you’re Happy, who is Mommy?” For reasons inexplicable, Willie replied, “Mommy is Bashful!” Mommy is not bashful. However, Bashful is a thoughtful, kind dwarf, so perhaps these qualities were behind his choice.
My mom then asked, “And who is Daddy?” Willie said, “Daddy is Doc!” This choice seems a bit more logical. My father wears glasses and has a calm, direct way of expressing himself. He has a quirky sense of humor, and he’s a natural leader.
Finally, my mom asked, “And who is your sister Caroline?” With no hesitation, Willie said, “Caroline is Snow White!”
So there you have it. To my brother, I am a Disney princess. He may not be able to say things like, “Caroline, I look up to you,” or, “Caroline, I’m glad you’re my sister,” but he can cast me in a starring role in the movie of his mind.
I may not be able to see all I’d like to see of my brother’s mind and heart, but what I can see is astonishing. He’s creative, and hilarious, and generous with his casting.