Best Friends Forever (BFF). Who is your BFF? Let’s define it first. As I see it, a BFF is someone who knows you – very well. This person loves you un-conditionally. They will be there by your side in good times and bad. They are very special people because they can listen to you without forming judgments. A BFF stands by you as your equal. If you look around you will notice that most individuals have a friend or two – and if you look on Facebook, well, friends are listed in the hundreds (sometimes thousands!) My autistic son, Matt, desires friends. He wants to have someone he can hang out with, laugh with, shop with, and this desire is a natural one. The majority of people need other people in their lives to feel whole. Matt simply wants to feel whole.
After high school Matt’s friends drifted away, as friends do. There really isn’t a great place to meet new people, except maybe college, and we’re working on getting him to take more classes. He needs the social impact of continued education. But how do I help him until then? We live week to week on our income – no activities that require money can be considered. We live in the country – we can’t even see our neighbors. Can you see the dilemma? To make things more complicated, I am a natural hermit. I like the seclusion of my life. That makes me one of the few who spend as little time as possible with other people outside my own family.
I really enjoy hanging out with Matt. We shop, laugh, play Wii sports, talk about the future, discuss world events and the weather. I teach him new things – and he teaches me. We make a good team. About a year ago I started telling Matt he was my best friend. His joy in this knowledge was immense – Matt had someone who considered him their best friend! At the time, Matt was traveling with Tom (my husband). Tom took several contracts over the past year and Alabama and North Carolina were close enough to home (Virginia) that Matt could come home if he needed to. While he was away Tom was his BFF. I would say, “Matt, you’re my best friend!” Matt loved hearing it. Unfortunately, he also felt conflicted. I could tell he had a problem. “What’s wrong?” I inquired. Matt would say, “Daddy is my best friend”. “That’s great!” I would assure him, “a person can have more than one best friend”. After that, Matt enjoyed hearing me say it. His answer was always an affirmation that he liked it – a simple “Yes!” and a hug.
He’s been home since January – Tom landed a job closer to home. We are all together again and life is getting better. I had major surgery in January and then went back to work part-time. The upside of this is that Matt and I have been spending more and more time together. He took care of me and helped get around – he treated me like I was fragile. I learned just how deeply Matt cared about me. I get stronger everyday. Presently, I feel like a million bucks. Life is getting back to normal. In addition to our usual list of activities I have been taking Matt out for driving lessons. A new challenge requires my focus to be a bit more concentrated on what Matt needs. My focus on him and his focus on me has allowed a chance to re-connect on an even deeper level. In addition, I realized just how much I missed him all those weeks he was away. Matt is the light of my life. When he’s away the world seems a bit darker, as if the color of life has drained away. Having him home I feel whole again. Feeling whole is what we all want.
Last night, on the eve of Mother’s Day, as I was headed for bed I stopped in Matt’s room to tell him good-night. “I love you, Matt. You’re my best friend.” I said. I gave him a big hug and a kiss. “You’remy best friend too” he replied and returned the hug. “Really?” I asked. I was honestly caught off guard. “Yes.” He said simply and gave me an even tighter hug.
A BFF is a person that makes one feel whole. My son and I are BFFs – what more could a mother want? My heart is full.