|Hilton Head Island, 2010|
Yesterday, I drove to Sophie's school with a heavy heart. I'd been on the phone all morning -- with The Neurologist who has scheduled an MRI for Sophie, with the MRI folks who needed an authorization from the insurance company, with my caseworker at IHSS (or her answering machine) and with the billing office of the home healthcare agency that provides the nurses who administer Sophie's IVIG every six weeks -- I'm not kidding. This is what I do most days, in between the shuttle service that I operate for the young boys of the city, and it never seems to end.
Anyway, I was driving to pick Sophie up from her high school, and I wasn't feeling good. Even though I've started this boot camp exercise regime and am pleased that I'm finally doing something about the physical side of myself, I still hate to exercise and hate, even more, the soreness I feel for days afterward. I feel incredibly out-of-shape and ungainly -- and if I didn't hate complaining about it more than being it, I'd spend this entire post whining.
But I'm not because this is about Redemption. Salvation. Grace.
I pulled into the giant high school parking lot and a handicapped space right next to the line of yellow school buses that wait for the kids to spill out and into. Sophie isn't yet on the bus line because this is the Los Angles Unified School District and things don't happen simply here. That's another story altogether. When I get to school, I call Sophie's aide on her cell phone and then wait for her to bring Sophie out. While I'm thankful for cell phones, this isn't the grace part of the story. Ms. P pushes her in her stroller/wheelchair while a boy from her class walks behind, pulling Sophie's backpack. Today, the "helper" was a young man named D who I happen to know from Sophie's elementary school years. He has some birth defects and moderate intellectual disability, is twenty-two years old and in his last year of this community-based instruction class.
Hi, D, I said as they walked toward me. Thanks for helping Sophie!
Who are you, D asked me bluntly and turned to Sophie's aide. Who is that lady?
That's Sophie's mother, Ms. P said.
You're Sophie's mother? D asked and then added, Sophie had a seizure today. She had a seizure today and I saw it with the teacher.
I'm so sorry, D., that you saw a seizure. They're hard to watch, but I'm glad that you were there to be with Sophie, I said. I lifted Sophie from her chair while Ms. P held the wheelchair and then I guided a very unsteady Sophie to the car, lifted her into the seat and started to put on the seat-belt.
I saw Sophie had a seizure today. And I didn't like it, D said a number of times, and when Sophie was safely buckled up I walked around toward the back of the car and said to D, I know; I don't like when she has seizures either. But I'm glad you were with her, D. I'm glad that you're her friend and can help her.
I love her, D. said, almost over my own words. Then he turned toward Sophie in the car and shouted,
I LOVE YOU SOPHIE, I LOVE YOU!
My heart almost burst open right there, but I managed to thank D and tell him how much that meant to me and to Sophie.
Can I hug her, Ms. P? D asked, then. And he meant me.
Ms. P gave me an O.K. sign, and he leaned over toward me, lay his head on my shoulder and then quickly pulled it up, shouting how happy he was to hug me.
Thank you so much, D., I said. You are an amazing guy.
Then D high-fived me and high-fived Ms. P, all the while exclaiming that he had hugged Sophie's mother.
Thank you, D.