This story was submitted by Cindy Facteau

We’ve been married for almost 15 years. I had a child from a previous (abusive) marriage when I met him. He and I also have a child together. He formally adopted my oldest son recently. Our sons are ages 19 and 9 respectively, and both of them are autistic.

Today is his birthday, so I wrote a message to him that explains how much our relationship means to me, and how much his love strengthens me.

Since you came into my life, I have often wondered how I ever lived and loved without you. You gave me your heart, and I took a gamble that you were “the one,” and allowed you to love my son too…as two became three.

I gave you my battered and bruised heart, stitched together precariously by the faint hope that one day, I’d meet someone who would show me how to properly mend and take care of it.

I sent you off to war with a heavy heart, and played the record of your voice over and over in my head and heart until you finally came home to me in one piece. Those seven months were perhaps the most frightening in my life, no matter how brave and calm I might have appeared.

I carried your child for nine months in my womb, surrounding it with warmth, love, and the promise of a life full of happiness and stability, something I had never quite known myself. I looked up through the pain as I brought our son into the world and I saw you standing next to me, vulnerable in your excitement and worry, and I fell in love with you all over again.

I cried on your shoulder (before I knew better) when the doctor delivered the news to us that our child was autistic…with so many worries and hopes for his future (because they infused our hearts with fear), and sat beside you as we grabbed hold of one another’s hands and readied ourself for the next chapter of our lives.

When the second autism diagnosis came, you assured me that it wasn’t my fault. I’d only listened to what the “experts” told us. You insisted that I was a good mother, and made me believe it. This time, you stood beside me in solidarity as I stopped therapies, distanced myself from those who promoted fear over facts, and supported my decision to support our children as they were, not as society wanted them to be.

When I was officially diagnosed autistic after a lifetime of being mislabeled and mistreated, you never stopped trying to learn about ways to support me and our boys. Google became second nature to you. It hasn’t always been perfect in our marriage, and I won’t pretend I’m always the easiest person to love, but you’ve managed to keep doing it for over 15 years. Your dedication gives my soul wings. I want you to know that, and I want you to believe it.

Even though you’re clean cut, don’t dye your hair, and have no body modifications or tattoos, you’ve complimented the way I’ve embraced my authentic self…even as I’ve transformed my outer appearance to reflect who I am inside. As the colors revolve and change, you tell me how beautiful the newest color is. In public, when my bare feet are adorned with beads, you tell me how pretty my feet are, and warn me when there’s spit or something sharp in my path. You don’t just accept me. You encourage me. You enable me to show the world the person I am, wholly and without pretense. I think that’s sexy. 🙂

I still stand beside the bed at night and watch you sleep, thinking of everything that you do for me, for our children, and I’m grateful for your presence in my life. We are yin and yang…so very different and complimentary at the same time. Without you, I’d forget to breathe…

Today, I thank the stars, the moon, and the Endless Beyond that you got into that cab and stumbled, fumbled, tumbled your way into my life. Together, we are Perfect Imperfection, a contradiction of “being” that somehow seems to work.

Thank you for all that you do. For Googling high iron foods to help with my anemia. For cooking that food when my body won’t allow me to. For trying to learn about how to support me even when you don’t understand – especially when you don’t understand. For loving my hopeless insanity, my own authentic autistic self…and most of all, for just being you.

Happy Birthday to a man who is my rock, my life partner, my lover, and my very best friend…

You’re a fantastic husband and my unwavering partner in life. I shouldn’t wait until your birthday to tell you how much I appreciate you.

I love you, Scooter Pie. Happy birthday, my love. 🙂

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