I frequently mix up the “ABC/NBC Mystery Movie” network call letters but I never mix up the songs. This is the theme for the 1989 ABC series. Burt Bacharach wrote it after the birth of his daughter Nikki in 1966. At the time Nikki, who was born prematurely, was struggling for her life in the hospital. Hal David wrote lovely lyrics that expressed the hope and heartache Burt and Angie Dickinson must have been feeling at the time. I’ve seen the lyrics printed but I’ve never heard them sung. This beautiful instrumental version of the song is much more popular. I think it conveys the message just as well.
Today happens to be “Blog For Access Day.” Bloggers with an interest in disability issues are encouraged to devote their blogs to the subject today. I mention this because, tragically, Nikki Bacharach took her own life in 2007. A spokesperson said she was unable to cope with the effects of her Asperger’s syndrome. I have 4 (probably a couple more) family members who fall along the Asperger’s end of the autistic spectrum. Thankfully, most of them were born after 1994 when experts finally began correctly diagnosing it but a couple of them weren’t.
I grew up with a cousin who had AS before it had a name. Mostly we chalked her grumpy bookishness up to teenage angst but it was clearly more. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her to grow up with this nameless difference but “not easy” is almost certainly an understatement. We had a pretty rocky relationship growing up but I have her to thank for my love of many things geeky. Happily my cousin’s story has a much happier ending than poor Nikki’s. She’s got a husband and three beautiful children. For the young people in my family living with autism the outlook is even brighter. I am sad that, even in 2007 when supports and resources were abundant and available, Nikki still couldn’t find any peace within herself and I’m very grateful that improved access means few others will suffer her fate.