We had a really, really good weekend.
We got to go see some of our favorite people this weekend in Fairfield, then got to hang out at the park with our community group at the park. Doesn't that sound fun?! The kids ran around and played in bubbles, got dirty, and had a glorious time while Mommy and Daddy had a glorious time visiting with our best friends and their families. After the kids had run around, giggling, having a great time all day, we put the kids in the van to head home, drying the "but I want to stay here" tears. Sunday, we had a wonderful time too. Same kind of thing... kids running around, making messes, generally having a great time. Both days were beautiful. Perfect weather for this kind of thing. One of those times that definitely looks like you'd choose them for a highlight reel of your life.
There were similarities of those days in great supply... lots of sun, good friends, laughs, and great times. Lots of encouragement, too. Both days, at least one person described Ryan as a sweet kid. Oh, how wonderful to hear someone else think so too! But there were much less gratifying similarities in the days, too. They were actually quite striking, even gut-wrenching, heart-sinking occurrences...
Under the surface of Saturday, we received a phone call that one of Eric's colleagues, a well-loved and endeared teacher, passed away in a motorcycle accident that afternoon, leaving three kids from elementary to high school age.
Under the surface of Sunday, among baseballs flying about and the munching of sandwiches and chips, the swilling of cool water, the scent of sunscreen lurked another loss. One that was deep and fresh, and the very act of being at the park was brought about by it.
Under the surface of our family, however, there was a silent celebration. Certainly not of the losses of our dear friends, but of the courage to be there. The courage to show up, hang out, and let our kids play out in the open. Sounds silly, I know. But we have to watch so closely, and are at times so misunderstood, even called things like paranoid, because we have to be able to see especially Ryan at all times. Even little Richie can tell someone his mom and dad are over there, or his name's Richie, or he lives in Groesbeck. Ya just gotta watch him. I've had so many nightmares of losing him like so many other autistic kids have been lost, wandering because they heard or knew of a body of water, or just to wander, or like Ryan, wanted to stim on car wheels while they turned. At all times, completely oblivious to danger. Remember, Ryan's the kid who stims on the van wheels when I drop him off at school to the point where someone has to be there to lead him to the door.
Yes, folks... it's taken a lot of practice... a lot of just making ourselves do it, but we're finally getting to the point where we do what we do, how we need to do it. There was a time when we just didn't have the emotional and mental energy to tackle an outing like this, and I can't say that we always do now. But we are ever-increasingly grateful for friends, family, and friends who might as well be family, who exhibit understanding of our concerns, don't judge when we do something a bit (or a lot) different than they would. That makes it easier. Tons easier.
We hurt with those who hurt, we mourn with those who mourn... we pray for comfort, peace, and rest for the families and for the kids at school here, for the children who no longer have Mommy at home. We'll be there to chip in, do our part, as community and brothers and sisters, not out of duty at all, but out of a heart overflowing with gratitude for the way God sent us all to minister to each other. Because by even something as simple as sitting at a picnic table, talking with us and letting your kids play with ours, you've ministered to our exhausted, weary hearts more than you ever know, friends.
Thanks be to God for people who wrap their arms around your heart... and for the ability and courage to attempt to do the same in return.