Seriously, Mari was anything but serious.
Autism. In and of itself is some pretty serious stereotypes. Children with autism don’t show emotions, especially smiling and absolutely no laughing or giving of hugs. Eye contact. It doesn’t happen. Concentration. Almost nonexistent. There are others as well but these ones are typically at the top of the list.
I smile because not only did Mari have severe classic autism (on a scale of 1 to 10, Mari was between an 8 or 9), but she broke the mold with those darn pesky little stereotypes. She not only smiled, her face lite up when she did. She had a laugh that was so infectious you couldn’t help but to laugh with her even though you probably had no idea what was so darn funny.
And the hugs. She’d run into your arms and hug you so tight that in her own way she showed you she loved you. I still remember the day she crawled up on my husband‘s sister Amanda’s lap and actually stayed there. It’s a memory Amanda still remembers.
Her eye contact was so good. I’m not saying it was perfect but she could give it.
The fact is that Mari proved you can’t just put someone with autism into the stereotypical box some have because no two people with autism are the same. They are as different as our fingerprints. Mari had a way of endearing herself into your heart forever. I am a better person for not only having known my beloved unserious little angel but for having been granted the honor and privilege of being her mom.