So we did the Waco Walk for Autism today, and I just can't decide what I want to tell you about. There's so much, and there's so little time this evening, with sleepy, freshly-bathed kids smelling of cowabunga coconut (or whatever their latest soap is) finally dreaming in their beds. There are so many things that the Heart of Texas Autism Network does to communicate and put on the walk, and we're grateful for the tons of hard work that go into the planning of such an event.
I want to tell you how great it was to see that.
I want to tell you... to pour, mold, and shape into words the reason I choke up and can barely hold tears when I walk into this event, and any other event where so many put in so much work to support and celebrate us and families like us.
I want to tell you how great it was to see so many groups from Baylor and Waco and beyond who recognize the need to support and celebrate these amazing kids.
I want to show you the pictures in my mind of each family, some with the t-shirts I just couldn't make time to put together but so wish I had, saying things like "Johnny's Crew" and "I'm an important piece in Johnny's puzzle".
I want you to see the mother with a little boy about Richie's age, wearing a cape made of multicolored puzzle-piece fabric, with a Superman-shaped "S" on the back. His family was all around him, clearly proud of him.
I want to tell you of how many teen-types were there, wearing shirts proclaiming their pride in their brother or sister.
I want to tell you how incredibly proud of one special young lady (we'll call her J) I am for giving up her Sunday to celebrate Ryan with us.
I want to tell you how proud I was of our little Maelynn, running around, charming everyone she met! How she ran around to each booth, talking to all the helpers and kids, playing all the games (or at the very least giving it her all), and how beautiful she was.
I want to tell you how Richie, though he was tired, did his best to show his pride in his Pal Ryan. How he batted his little eyes at the sorority girls hosting the booths, and finally succumbed to exhaustion and sat in the stroller for a bit.
I want to tell you how Ryan was Ryan. How he had a hard time adjusting, just wanted to go back to the elevator in the parking garage, and how he did have a couple of meltdowns but they were short-lived.
I want to tell you how amazing J was at helping out with he and the other kids.
I want to tell you how proud I am to be married to a man who is proud to walk with his family at this event, taking pictures of the kids having a great time, and having a great time himself.
I want to tell you how amazing it was when Ryan finally calmed down and started having fun at the booths... how precious and heart-melting it was to see him run, giggling, over the grass of the fountain mall.
I want to tell you about all the super-woman mamas and super-man daddies I saw today. How I saw them in action, and all at once wanted to hug them, high five them, pat them on the back, and tell them how great it is to see them... but I didn't, of course. Because I know there's no time for small talk when your ASD child is loose someplace.
I want to tell you how thankful I was to walk around the one time we made it around with Ryan on my shoulders. How I realized that, for all he overcomes just to come to the dinner table, much less to be at this event, do school, and life in general... I really think he deserves to be carried around.
I want to tell you how neat it was, when I walked by with my nearly seven year old boy on my shoulders, the singer of the band that was there interrupted the start of his next song to look at me, get my attention, and say "Your road's gettin' longer, isn't it!" Why yes... yes, it is... thanks for noticing. And for being here, Leon River Band!
I want to tell you how grateful I am to gather more information about organizations we might be able to use for bettering Ryan's life and our understanding of him.
I want to tell you how quickly it went by.
But since time's fun when you're having flies, as my college band director used to say, I feel compelled to tell you only this... that when Ryan got out of the bath, he started singing in his own little way, bits and pieces of this:
I know, buddy. I know it's not easy. But you do such a great job of bein' Ryan. We are so proud of you, little buddy. We're going to keep doing everything we can for you, because we know that God made you fearfully and wonderfully.
Thanks be to God.