A little over two years ago, one of my good friends was in an accident. Caitlin was riding her bike late at night and was hit by a black livery. She was pulled under the car and the worst of her injuries was a large burn she received from being pressed against the car’s radiator. She spent about six weeks in the hospital and needed two rounds of skin grafting to repair her shoulder and arm from the burn.

Her recovery was inspirational to me. Watching her rebound from this intense trauma in such an intentional way felt healing to me. Even though I was just watching from the sidelines, attempting support through phone calls and cupcakes, I felt like her story affected me in a profound way.

My friend is also a painter. Caitlin’s work is hanging in various galleries across the country. She’s spent time working as an artist-in-residence at a high end resort in the Caribbean. The city of New York hired her to paint a large mural in the financial district. In a field that is very, very hard to break into, she’s made many impressive gains.

Then, sometime last fall, she started to paint Isaac.

She says that she feels connected to Isaac. She says that even though her body is mostly healed from the accident, she knows that experience is something that will always be with her. She’ll always have been in this accident. And she sees ways that it holds her back, but she also sees ways that it has given her life a lot of beauty. She tells me that she sees the same kinds of patterns with Isaac and his autism. There are definitely ways that Isaac’s autism holds him back, but there are also many ways that it gives his life a lot of beauty. And ultimately it’s a universal theme. The things that hold you back aren’t all bad. They are usually more complex than that.

She’s painted him about three or four times now. He’s hanging in a gallery in the Caribbean. He was entered in a contest in London. He’s in progress in her studio in Brooklyn. And now, he’s hanging in our dining room.

For Isaac’s birthday, Caitlin gave him a small portrait. It about 3×5 and it’s incredibly detailed. I think he looks older in this painting, about 8. And when I told her that she said, “well, we’ll see if I’m right.” When he unwrapped it, he knew right away it was him. And when we hung it, he kept trying to take it down to look at it, so we had it hang it higher. :)

Today is Isaac’s actual birthday. He’s 4 years old. And today I feel so, so grateful. Grateful for family and friends that see him as he is and loves, loves, loves him for it. Grateful for these moving stories that unfold as we set about to just live our lives. And very, very grateful for Isaac.

Isaac, you’ve changed everything. ¬†And I am so glad.

Email this post Email this post


About robyn

I stopped teaching Kindergarten in 2005 to become the mom of two crazy boys here in Brooklyn. At first I thought being a stay at home mom meant that I needed to pour all my time and energy directly into my sons, but I realized somewhere along the way that being a rockstar mom meant not only taking good care of my boys, but also taking good care of myself. And taking good care of myself means pursuing something creative...just about everyday. I started Made In Brooklyn to motivate myself in my creative goals as well as share my work with others and perhaps inspire them in their own creative journeys.
This entry was posted in Autism, Isaac, reflection. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to story

  1. marsha. says:

    Happy birthday to Isaac!

  2. Plume says:

    Very lovely picture, and another birthday wish for Isaac.

  3. Mama V says:

    what a great story! i’m loving the wonderful connection between caitlin and isaac. beautiful work, caitlin! and last but not least, happy birthday, mr. isaac!!

  4. What a lovely and inspirational post you have written here, Robyn – about Caitlin AND Isaac. I love the painting she did for Isaac, and I love the photos you have posted here of your little man. I’ve known him since he was in that little red shirt. :o)

    The photos you post and the stories you tell about Isaac (and Andrew) have endeared me to them so. A very happy birthday to Isaac!!! He’s one lucky little boy! xo

  5. Susan says:

    This post totally made me cry. Love that little guy!

  6. Amy says:

    My goodness, it is superb! Wow!

  7. Ladkyis says:

    She has so captured the essence of the Isaac you tell us about. The look in his eyes and the way he seems poised to take off in some way. What an artist! What a boy! and what a wonderful family he has!
    Happy Birthday Isaac from the damp and wet coast of Wales.

  8. Ruth says:

    I love, love, love Isaac and what a superb gift!

Comments are closed.