Written by Gale Boonstra
Aaron was my youngest child so he will always be my baby. As his disabilities were first being recognized and diagnosed when he was about 3, I went through a period of grief as I wondered about his future and confronted the reality of what might be possible for this adorable, chubby blond haired, brown eyed toddler. I felt some guilt at having brought him into the world when I already had two healthy daughters. Had it been selfish of me to want another child? But those feelings were quickly replaced with a determination to help him in any and every way I could because surely it was more difficult to be him than it was to be me and he surely had been given to me because I was the one who could guide and love him.
It was at times a difficult journey for me and, especially as Aaron grew to adulthood, I felt that I could be a huge annoyance to my boy. I realize now that he did achieve the independence I always wished for him and likely much of my concern and desire to continually advocate for him must have felt like too much interference in that adult world. I am finding out so many special things about friends who loved him, gifts he shared, and precious small adventures he experienced day to day. I am so overwhelmingly grateful that he was able to make this all possible without my help. He was ultimately able to achieve the meaningful life I feared would never happen for him.
Where do I go from here in order to remember and honor this son of mine? Our family has established and will endow a memorial fund in his name. It is my dream to use this fund to support projects in Aaron’s community that will provide safety, independence and camaraderie for developmentally disabled adults. This is an ambitious goal so I invite any and all of you to accompany me on this adventure to help me make it a reality.