Today I give thanks to life. I’m alive. I’ve squandered many chances in life that keep me up nights with regret, but who knows if one or two of them might have led to a fatal car crash or something. Thank you, whoever you are, for keeping me alive.

Besides, had I followed another path in life, I almost certainly wouldn’t have met my wife, who is the best thing that could have ever happened to a schmuck like me. I thank the angels of fate or whoever conspired to introduce me to her. Thank you for bringing me someone I love with all my heart.

Thank you, love of my life, for everything you do for us and for me. Thank you for every bill paid, dish washed, food item prepared, sheet cleaned, amenity purchased, trip arranged…everything. I cannot imagine a better wife, or mother. And thank you for saying that if Dar is the price of being with me and R for the rest of your life, you’d pay it. I feel likewise.

Thank you, fates, for Dar’s condition not being worse. He could be in a wheelchair with less mobility than Stephen Hawking. He could be nervously flapping his arms or his other appendages to the point of distraction. He could be moving his eyes or head in a way that causes strangers alarm. We are lucky that he often presents as “normal,” at least until he opens his mouth.

Thank you for Dar’s very incremental progress. This year he has probably learned to say “hat” and “shoe,” mostly because he wants to stim on my hats and shoes. So he can say/learn things for which he’s highly motivated. Thank you for the hope that brings. It could be worse.

Thank you for the autism support community of the Bay Area. Thank you for all the people who have gone through this before we have. Thank you so that we don’t feel alone in the dark. Thank you for the advice, the experiences, the life wisdom.

Thank you for Northern California. Thank you for the weather and the fresh food and the flora and the fauna and the community and all the rest of it.

Thank you that I get to do what I love. That includes the novel I finished and submitted to publishers this year. Thank you for the time and energy and inspiration that made all that possible. Thank you, 2015. I may not have completed every goal I had, but thank you for the progress.

Thank you for R, oh all the Gods there are, thank you for R. Thank you for his early reading and his remarkable sense of humor. Thank you in advance for R’s willingness to consider loving his brother enough to take care of him when his parents are dead. Thank you for giving us hope that if Dar winds up at some cuckoo’s nest when we’re dead, at least Dar will have a brother looking out for him, trying to make sure that the worst doesn’t happen.

Thank you for my family and friends and all they’ve meant to me and all they will mean to me on this journey.

Thank you for hope.