Whispers in the Wind
Spring is when my severely autistic son’s miraculous young special ed teacher—the inspiration for HikingAutism.com—worked most intensely with our family before his sudden passing.
The courage and confidence he unlocked in Sean—then almost housebound by overwhelming neurosensory issues—changed our world. Though years have passed, the intensity of his presence still hovers in the air around us, particularly in April and May.
The tangible sense of his essence sneaks up on me every year. The wind blows a certain way. A raven acts out of character, as if trying to get our attention. Images of Sean and his magically intuitive teacher are etched in my head. At this time of year when we walk in specific places they were together, I get flashbacks as if they were standing there just yesterday.
If I sense these powerful memories, triggered by season, light, and particular places, what might my autistic son be feeling, his life so dramatically changed by his teacher who disappeared suddenly?
Though less frequently over the years, Sean still sometimes says his old teacher’s name. He mumbles words relating to his treasured friend and mentor, and shows rare displays of sadness and loss. Broken hearts and memories are processed differently by different people, but those feelings need to be processed.
This week my sons and I were walking in a stunning location that feels like our own backyard, and as they walked past a spot where the Golden Gate Bridge is framed in the background by trees, a memory of Sean and his teacher flashed up so strongly I could feel them standing there on that spring day years ago, right in that spot.
It is a comfort to sense the presence of loved ones we’ve lost, whether a family member, friend, or other important figure. When the whisper of the wind takes me by surprise in this way, I stop to immerse myself in that reminder from nature, and say thanks. (For more about Sean and his beloved teacher, see In Memory and Thanks, and Getting Sean Out.)
This week’s Hike Notes are from the archives, Lands End Lookout to Mile Rock Beach, a San Francisco walk filled with stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands, and the Pacific.
Click Insights/Hike Update News for inspiring reflections. The long list of Hikes can be browsed on the Quick View Hike List (listed by area) and on the main Hikes page.
Click World Walks to see favorite family-friendly walks contributed by HikingAutism readers, and how to submit a walk of your own!
Check the Home page for the broader background story. If you’re not able to take one of these Northern California hikes, hopefully you can enjoy the photo galleries at the bottom of each hike page! Please feel free to share, and follow on Twitter at @HikingAutism.
This week’s Hike Notes from the Archives:
(Original Hike Notes 3): Lands End Lookout to Mile Rock Beach
Sharing insights and hiking highlights (Hikes, Hike Search by Area) from the special needs caregiver front in San Francisco.