Saturday, October 30, 2010

Friday Redemption (not detention) on Saturday

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,


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. 

Thank you.


  1. Sorry to hear Sophie had a seizure. They are definitely hard to watch. What a touching post you wrote.

  2. I can relate about exercise. But the good part is that eventually (very soon, I hope) you will start to feel stronger and that is what gets me through. I realize I am less tired and that I want to eat less junk food than normal once I get into the exercise groove (I'm not in one right now and spent last night hunting for Halloween Oreos in vain.)

    I love the story about Sophie and her friend. It's amazing that kids go off and touch other people's hearts and lives. I always hope Benjamin is lighting up somebody's day when he's not with me.

  3. D is a wise soul.
    and i wish I could hug you and Sophie.

    so good to know you saw enough grace , carry it always

  4. Wow, what a beautiful post. Wisdom and compassion can flow into our lives in the most unexpected ways, can't it? I am so sorry to read of Sophie's recent spat of seizures. I'm a lurker, I read your blog with my morning coffee and I just want to let you know that on more than a few days you have been my unexpected source of wisdom and compassion. Thank you.

  5. I love it when that happens! It is so great that he buoyed your spirits and you did the same for him at the same time. I'm sure he carried the joy of that hug along with him for a long time yesterday.

  6. I love this are my Saturday redemption. When did we forget to love like that? The biggest lesson in my life was how other kids loved Samantha.....loved her so much it made them giddy.

    Thank you for my Saturday story. So much love to you all :)

  7. How is it that we forget these important ways of treating each other, and we have to be taught the lesson from someone who is probably often marginalized. Says a bit about our social values and priorities, doesn't it? Thanks for sharing this story.

  8. Okay, got me all teared up here. Sigh.

  9. D (and you) have made my Saturday. Needed a little Light from the universe today.

    Thank you. xo

  10. Full on ugly cry over here. Absolutely, positively delicious. Grace indeed. No better word.

  11. Tears and gratitude here. The spirit of Love is so strong - it can grow through ANYthing, everything. That is grace, redemption, balm, sustenance - it's a moment of heaven.
    Thank you for letting us into it with you, to bask in the balm of that beautiful young man's honesty and spontaneous loving kindness.

    Exercise is a pain. It's all I can do to walk, these days. You are going to see the rewards of your boot camp, but you're probably in the hardest part right now, creating new muscle-memory and new habits. Hats off to you. xoxo

  12. Grace, indeed. These little moments, these brief glimpses of things good and beautiful in the midst of the bad and painful. They keep me going.

  13. also crying, with chills.

    so very glad you shared this luminosity with us.

  14. ps
    you could take fish oil daily, and that would help with the soreness. i take a high(er) dose of fish oil daily for depression, hormone balance and it's anti-inflammatory effects in general. i take 4 capsules daily, but sometimes in the winter when i feel blue i take 4 twice a day. it really really helps.

  15. Oh, Elizabeth. I can relate to so many of things you mention in this post - hours and hours of the day spent on the phone, setting up appointments, in consult with specialists, navigating insurance issues. And the hurdles - HUGE hurdles - that a parent/care-giver has to go through sometimes to make some of the most logical, straight-forward, very necessary things happen for your child. However, I have not had the experience with Owen that you had with D and Sophie and yet in your writing I can feel the depth of warmth that you felt from such a gesture. And I hear you about the exercise. It's SO though to find the time to take care of ourselves. Very tough. Care for the care-giver is a lovely sentiment but one that's incredibly difficult to implement. Thank you for allowing us into your lives. I read pretty much every post and find your words so comforting. And I hope The Walk a couple of weeks ago went well.

  16. Oh baby. This brought me to tears. Such love.
    Such love. This is what fuels the world.
    Thank-you for being the writer you are and taking the time to share it with us. It makes more of it.

  17. That's sweet. Touching. Thought-provoking.

    Often, I bitch and complain about our species. About how we are ruining this planet, about how piss-poor we treat each other, about how we the people we place in charge of our own care do everything in their power to poison and destroy us.

    Then I realize, from posts like this, that the truth is that the more 'enabled' we sometimes are, the less of a heart we can sometimes actually have. I've seen more raw compassion and un-soiled purity of 'soul' in the so-called 'disabled' than anywhere else on Earth.

    They may be one of the most important resources left, in the end, that makes this whole fight...worth fighting.

  18. Oh my goodness ... that brought tears to my eyes. What a sweet young man! Seizures are hard to watch, for all of us. :( I hope you guys have a good weekend.

  19. Good for D. I love kids like that.

  20. What a kid. What a gal you are. Keep up the exercise. Epson salts baths can help with the soreness.
    Love T

  21. Oh, so beautiful. I would have been a mess. I AM a mess. I want to hug him too.

  22. I love D. Seriously, what a gift.

    And if it helps (but why would it??) you have inspired me to THINK about boot camp.

  23. Crying!!! This was so sweet and just really touched me. Loved this post sooo much. Hearing about sophie's seizures breaks my heart, but I was also uplifted by the sweet, unbridled empathy of her classmate.

    Giving you another hug from across the country :)

  24. oh wow, you made me cry at work.
    sorry things are so tough all around. glad you got that much deserved hug. sounds like he needed one too. sweet.

  25. Came here from Hopeful Parents...I'm all teary-eyed. Beautiful post!

  26. OK you have me in tears. This is an absolutely beautiful story to share. I know how awful seizures. My CJ has a history of having them several times a week. :(


  27. OMG I am crying here
    How wonderful D and Sophie are



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