For all of the insane drama, finger pointing, and name calling on part one of The Real Housewives of New Jersey reunion last night, there was one touching, heartbreaking moment that made all of the rest of it seem even more ridiculous than it was. It happened while Jacqueline Laurita was speaking about her son Nicholas and his autism diagnosis.
Andy Cohen played a video montage that showed scenes from past episodes over the years in which she struggled with infertility, finally got the son she dreamed of, and some of their happy family times, including one scene in which Nicholas told her, "I love you." When the camera came back to Jacqueline on the couch, she lost it. "He doesn't say it anymore," she told Andy.
As Caroline Manzo tried to console her and told her he would say it again, Jacqueline sobbed, as did plenty of viewers at home right along with her. It was so hard to see her reeling from such a loss, but she also had a message of hope.
"First and foremost, he's beautiful, he's such a joy, he's very loving ... he happens to have autism," she said. In a tweet this weekend, she also addressed this point, which causes many parents of children with autism to bristle. "I've made the mistake of saying, 'My Autistic son' I'm correcting myself. He has Autism. It's just a small piece of who he really is."
And she's right. Autism isn't a death sentence, but it typically is heartbreaking for families facing it. Seeing her reaction there so raw really brought that pain to life and is surely comforting to the many other families who have experienced similar emotions alone when it comes to this often isolating disease.
While it doesn't sound like Jacqueline is going to be coming back for another season of RHONJ, hopefully she can use the fame she has gained to further advocate for her son and the many other families who face autism every day. She's already been raising money for organizations like Autism Speaks, and seems committed to doing everything she can to raising awareness and finding a cure.
Good for her; it's such a better use of her time and talent than trying to dodge Teresa Giudice and all of her drama that seems even more childish and ridiculous in the face of such a REAL issue.
Were you touched by Jacqueline Laurita's honesty about her son's autism?
Image via Bravo