Friday, May 27, 2016

Meeting New Friends

Good Morning!

Again I apologize for not being able to update often lately.  My job has taken me to 10 cities in the last 5 weeks which I find is not a great environment for creative blog thought. Hopefully as my schedule gets back to normal so will my entries.

I'd like to shout out to some people that I met this week.  I find it amazing how many people out there are experiencing many of the same things that I have experienced.  Equally as interesting is the enthusiasm that most of these fellow caregivers have about sharing their stories as well.  The conversation is always engaging and leaves me with a sense of comfort that we are not alone in our journey.  

Even though I often preach that it is important to reach out to others, I find that at times I do not do this as often as I would like.  This week reminded me that I need to be better aware of that.  You see, I do believe that our experiences "speak" to us and we need to be sure to slow down and keep our ears and eyes open to them.

I want to share my experiences with 3 different people this week.  All from different places and with different stories, and yet we were also all very similar in our love for our special children.

First I met a co-worker, Stacy, who has a special needs young man that she cares for.  As we talked I found myself admiring how deeply she cares about her young man.  Her loyalty and passion for caring for him came out of every pore as we spoke.  As with probably all of us, she talked about the struggles with a system that is often not very well suited to aid in special needs care.  But she has incredible courage and love in her heart which takes her a long, long way.  And as with many of us I believe that she struggles to live outside of her current situation.  Talking with her is inspiring with a tinge of sadness.  I truly wish that she reads this blog and it brings her comfort, courage, and hope.

Then as I sat in the airport waiting for my delayed departure, I struck up a conversation with a girl younger than I who happened to be a special needs teacher.  We talked about how the school systems can so often be "one size fits all" when these special needs are anything but!  We talked about how as parents there are too few educational and support resources. We even sat and drew some inspirational cards together as we talked.  She probably will never hear this as many times as she deserves to....but thank you for what you are doing for those children and families.  You DO make a difference.  It is the kindness of good people like yourself that are the lifeline in which many of us cling.

Finally I sat beside a gracious lady (I'm ashamed I did not ask her name) on the airplane. For a time we tended to our own business but with an hour left in the flight we found ourselves talking about various things. We quickly realized we both have autistic sons of a similar age.  For an hour we shared our anxieties and fears, but we also shared the things that we love about our children, and the hope for a better life for them and the family.  Her strength was obvious in her demeanor.  I found her to have an intelligence and compassion that I rarely come across in my travels.  And yet when talking about the future she melts back into that stare into the abyss that we all know so well, and the feeling of helplessness we all have felt.  

For each of these 3 wonderful people I wish you the strength to continue on.  And I wish you the courage to continue to look for what those children need and to be the hero you are for them today.  I hope you read this blog and it brings you some direction and comfort.  You are not alone no matter how much it may feel that way.

So as you see my friends, there are so many of us with the same joys and struggles.  In 4 days I came across three "strangers" who shared their lives with me and vice-versa. Don't ever stop sharing your story or listening to the stories of others.  One chance encounter may be inspirational and the very message you needed to hear.  As a very dear friend of mine and I always say, life and love speak to us often, its a matter of whether we listen.

Be well and God bless.  Tom

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