Such an interesting question. Reflecting on the last week and last week’s post, I have been thinking about who I am. Jane had such a strong sense of who she was, buttressed by a disconnect, a feeling of not fitting in anywhere. I have lost much of my feeling of not fitting in. I am truly connected to those to whom I am close. Even though the combined love, affection, trust and respect in which Jane was held was massive, she remained outside of, or on the edge of, except for a very few of us.

Jane’s love for others was so big, in spite of her disconnect. She freely gave of herself for the benefit of others. I am less giving, or perhaps it is that I give in different ways. Jane gave of her self, her knowledge, her love, her compassion, her time. I give of my time, my compassion, my kindness, my knowledge. But I give more hesitantly, less generously. I keep my self, for those closest to me. But also I am not sure who that self is, so it is easy to keep it to me.

I spent part of the weekend with one friend, doing a short hike, and part with another friend, hanging out. Such different friends, and such different experiences. I am totally different with each one. More animated with the one I am not as relaxed with, which is counter intuitive. But I am more contained with my more contained friend. Both of us comfortable in our autism, and with each other’s autism. Contained and comfortable.

On my own, I am at times contained and at times highly animated, dancing around the house with Chico sitting on my hip as if I think he is an actual child and not a fluffy dog. Both he and I comfortable in the way we dance together. If I start to dance without picking him up and sticking him on my hip he runs around me batting my legs with his paws. Not many people see that though, they see studious and driven, quiet and serious.

I have started to laugh again. Hanging out this weekend, I laughed more than I have in a long long time. We were just being silly, teasing and joking and at one point I just couldn’t stop laughing and it was that beautiful belly laugh that ends up with tears running down your face. At the same time, I was honoured to be a person that someone else felt comfortable sharing their grief and sadness with. Hot drinks and hugs, caring chat, things that heal, or at least bring the hope that there can be healing in time.

It was suggested to me that caring is loving, loving is caring. But I am not so sure that majority culture lives or even believes that, even though it is the way that many people in minority cultures live. I think that currently society views caring, as a surface level value, and that love is viewed as either sexual, for lovers/partners/spouses, or relational; siblings, parents, children. And yet, there are so many more facets to love, it can be so much broader, a simple way of connecting authentically with compassion and kindness. Perhaps we are afraid of this type of authentic connection. Not just me, because I think I have this connection with people whom I am connected to, but people in general in majority western cultures.

I’d like to challenge us all to love a little more, not sexually or relation-ally. But to love friends, to truly and deeply care about them. To support them to be the best them that they can be, for them. Not for us.