There will always be things I’d like to hear from William. But I have learned that if I listen with more than my ears, he will tell me everything I want – and need – to hear.

Recently, I would have given my soul to have him tell me where it hurts. But through his discomfort, William managed to unveil the culprit.

I was listening with every sense I have.

When he cries those real, can’t catch his breath, sobbing tears, I’d love to hear what hurt his feeling or made him emotional. His little bottom lip pouts and his eyes close when he has these tears and it just breaks my heart to see him sad like that. I have a whole conversation with him about things that make me sad while I wrap my arms around him and hold him tight – guessing what has made him sad. He eventually focuses on my voice and the tears subside.

I’d love to hear about what makes him laugh. He has a giggle laugh, a deep gut laugh and he even has that uncontrollable laugh where he can’t seem to stop. Sometimes he’s on the verge of sleep and all of a sudden he starts giggling to himself. There are times when something on TV makes him laugh too. All I can do is talk to him about what my gut says made him laugh. Sometimes he keeps laughing and other times he looks at me as if I’m nuts – kind of like he’s telling me I have it all wrong.

When we are on an outing and people are talking to him, I act as an interpreter. I answer them the way I think he would answer based on his mood, body language and who we are conversing with. I kinda wonder if I ever get his responses right.

One of William’s favourite things is listening to other people have a conversation. Often he makes noises as if he is giving his opinion or sharing his experience. I happily respond back with an appropriate question for him. We can go back and forth a bit and then he smiles and sits so attentively.

I love you!

I hear it from my girls all the time and any parent knows how good those three words sound coming from their children.

I have had to learn how to hear “I love you” from William – challenge accepted!

It’s when I arrive in his room in the wee hours of the morning and he instantly stops crying, it’s when he hears me coming and goes quiet in anticipation of seeing me, it’s when I come into his view and he lights right up and it’s when he hears my voice whisper in his ear, “I love you buddy,” and his breath grows deeper and slower and more content.

I can remember snuggling with William many times over the years and repeating “I love you” so he could see my lips move. I not only wanted him to know how much I love him, but I was secretly hoping he might be able to say these words, even if they were the only three words he ever spoke.

I think I felt like if he could say “I love you”, it would be the only way I could feel that he did. But I have learned that these words are just words and his love is shown in so many other ways.

~ Keely

Keely is an author and advocate for children living with disabilities. She lives on Vancouver Island in beautiful British Columbia, with her husband, her son William who has cerebral palsy, her two daughters and several four-legged friends.