Heller Keller said, “Quit looking so close at the closed door that you fail to see the door that is opening in front of you.”
As expected, the phone has quit ringing, the barrage of emails stopped arriving and the buzz is dying down. I found myself so sad and a bit lost yesterday. Walking around mumbling “Now what?” as I stumbled through the house, tripping over dirty clothes, a pile of unwashed dishes in the sink and a stack of unopened mail.
And then this morning, I remembered this photo. I was so caught up in the busyness and business of the week that I failed to embrace and rejoice in the true and real part of this story! The fact that James and I got to touch people all over the world.
James is in a typical classroom in an inclusive program. With the help of his incredibly talented and patient aid, Catherine, he is thriving in his environment. He has trouble with speech and we are working extremely hard on his writing skills.
Catherine has been following along all week with all the hype and I told her I wanted to do something to express our gratitude to the thousands of people all around the world who have reached out to us. She helped James write these words and she snapped this photo.
Until I can respond to the hundreds and hundreds of personal messages, please know that both James and I are so grateful for your kind words. To the brave mothers who have trusted us by sharing your own painful stories – all I can say is you are loved and support from afar!
And as great as this photo is, the bigger lesson for me this morning is that I failed to send it! I let myself get worried and bogged down with how to keep the momentum going that I totally missed the most beautiful part. The fact that James’ life has impacted people all around the world. The fact that out of a moment of our pain, so much good has appeared!!
Doors are closing. And that is a scary feeling. Because when that happens you feel that your are not in control, and reminded that you were never in control in the first place! But as Hellen Keller said, windows of understand and possibility are opening. I have no idea what this day holds, but my personal goal is to stay open to even THIS part of the journey. The low part. The valley. The part that seems darker than yesterday. Because there are lessons and beauty even in that season. Xo
P.S. I’m trying to figure out how to stay in touch with everyone… if you have a moment please visit my website and sign up for the actual email list. This will help me keep you informed of future wall-hitting life-changing moments! www.lynnmarie.net
And then this happened….
Nashville Folks – can you help me find this guy on FB? Or do you know any big-wigs at Apple who I can send this too? They need to know how awesome this employee is!!!!
Dear Apple Store in Green Hills,
I’m writing to let you know how great your employee (pictured in this photo) was to me and my son, James, yesterday when we came to the store to buy a new iPad.
When James was about three-years-old we bought him his first iPad. It turned out to be more than a device to watch videos. It became a way to help James communicate.
Because James was born with Down Syndrome, and at six-years-old was diagnosed with Autism, we use his iPad everyday as a learning tool. Sadly, even with a life-proof cover, after seven years of use, James’ first iPad was no longer working. We had replaced the screen several times and it just kept breaking. It was obviously time for a new one!
I had lunch with a dear friend, who noticed the ‘state’ of my iPhone 5. I told her that it was covered in snot, and limping along, not because of me, but because of James. (My phone became the replacement to his iPad.)
To make a long story a bit shorter, that friend happens to be on the board of a charitable organization, The Fiona Rose Murphey Foundation Charitable Trust, who graciously offered to provide James with a much needed new iPad.
On Thursday, James and I made our way to the Apple Store in Green Hills. While looking at the iPads James must have seen something that sparked his interest in the mall, and he took off running full speed out the door. The problem was he wasn’t at the door, but at the clear glass wall. He slammed into the wall full force which knocked him over. The entire store gasped as they heard the sound of James’ head hitting the glass and then the floor.
I ran to him and tried to comfort him. James has a very high tolerance for pain, so his tears and ‘fat lip’ were brief. Mine however were not. As I hugged him sitting on the floor your employee came over and sat down next to me. He asked if he was okay and if there was anything he could do. I think it was at this point that he realized James had special needs.
“I think we’re gonna be okay,” I said. “But it looks like he’s gonna have quite a goose egg on his forehead.” Your employee asked, “What can I do for you?” (I wanted to ask for a margarita or a donut but I was pretty sure they didn’t have any of those in that secret back room.) I said, “Well, we actually came here today to buy an iPad which was donated to James, but if we’re going to proceed would you be willing to sell it to us and set it up… down here on the floor?”
And so he did. Your awesome employee sat with James on the floor of the store and set up the new iPad. There are no words to accurately describe how grateful I am that he took the time to ‘meet us right where we were.’ He didn’t have to sit down on the floor with us. He could have easily waited for us to stand. Could have easily waited for us to come back another day. But he hung out with us in the midst of our pain. He even got a fist bump from James, and I snapped this photo.
Life is a learning journey. And I walked away from this experience with the reminder to always meet people where they are at. It’s so easy to be so focused on our own mission or plan (or sale) that we fail to see what people really need. I long to be better at this. I long to not be so self-absorbed that I never miss an opportunity to love exactly like someone needs in the moment.
Thank you to Apple, your employee, and the Fiona Rose Murphey Foundation Charitable Trust for being a part of our never-dull lives.
In the emotion of the day I can’t remember his name, but I’m hoping someone will see this and get this “Thank you” to him! (Until the snow clears and I can get there myself! Which in Nashville could be weeks! ha)
P.S. And a big thank you to Apple for making products that are changing the lives of special needs kids!
Dear Southwest Airlines,
This is a thank you letter to Flight Attendant Juan Rivera, Captain Marc Bonisch and Capt. Marc Nannini, who went above and beyond the call of duty.
My son James was born with Down syndrome. When he was six-years-old he was diagnosed with Autism. I want the whole world to know how much Southwest Airlines cares about all of their passengers, including those with special needs – which in theory is all of us!
What happened to me and my son on our flight from Baltimore to Ft. Myers is by far the worst situation I have ever found myself in with my special needs child, and I apologize if the carpeting in front of seat 3A on that Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 will now have to be replaced.
James had a minor surgery the day before we were scheduled to fly. He seemed to be recovering just fine and when I told him we would be going to the beach he was so excited. James has been flying since he was six-weeks-old. At one point he had more frequent flyer miles than I did and has no trouble sitting in his seat for hours at a time. And… the fact that he loves pretzels (one of his few foods of choice) makes flying Southwest an added bonus.
Our flight took us from our home in Nashville to Baltimore. During our layover in Baltimore it was evident James did not feel well. He laid on my lap, which he never does, and shivered. My hope was that he would just sleep on the flight to Ft. Myers and when I arrived and met up with my husband Jim, we could get some medicine in him.
James did in fact sleep for almost the entire flight. I prayed for him, gently rubbed his forehead and snapped this sweet photo. But this was the calm before the storm. But what happen next would prove to be the most challenging circumstance I had ever found myself in.
Sparing your readers, the gruesome details, I will just tell you that James had a horrible potty accident. Horrible. Violent. Volcanic. The likes of which I have never seen before or since. It was so bad that I didn’t know what to do or where to begin. I sat in my seat frozen with fear and sadness and humiliation. It’s one thing when something like this happens at home and you can strip your baby down and throw them into the tub. It’s another when you are in an airline seat and your child is eight-years-old.
I was on the verge of a complete meltdown when Juan, the flight attendant put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Ma’am what do you need?” I said, “I need trash bags. Two of them. I need wet paper towels. Hundreds of them.” Then, for the next fifteen minutes Juan helped me clean up my little boy. I wiped and cleaned and wiped and cleaned. Juan picked up trash and brought stacks and stacks of wet paper towels and encouragement. “It’s going to be okay,” he said.
After Juan and I were able to get James clean I started to work on the floor. But the more I rubbed the worse it got. I did the best I could and handed over the last of the paper towels to Juan. I let the tears silently roll down my cheeks and Juan brought me water. I looked at James, as clean as I could get him, quietly sitting in his seat. And in his awkward tongue he said, “yank you bobby.” (Thank you Mommy.)
As we exited the plane, surely engulfed in a Pig-pen-esq cloud of smoke, there was a team of people, dressed like Hazmat workers, waiting to board the plane. As I stood on the jet way, waiting for James’ stroller, I over heard the pilot, (Capt. Marc Bonisch or Capt. Marc Nannini – I’m not sure which one it was) say to the workers, “Yes, there was an incident on board and we need you to see how bad it is before we can make a decision as too whether or not this plane can stay in use.” He looked over at me. I couldn’t decide whether to cry, to scream or raid the liquor cart. The Capt. personally brought me my stroller. I told him how sorry I was that this happened. And then he comforted me, “Ma’am, these things happen. It’s okay. We can’t thank you enough for flying with us!” There he was, thanking me, when I may have just put the plane out of use!
I would have never have been able to get through such a challenging circumstance if it wasn’t the kindness and support of two amazing SWA employees.
I am recording artist. I have been doing a house concert tour, flying SWA every weekend to different cities all over the country. I schedule my shows only where SWA fly’s to… because I know that SWA will not only get me their safely, but they will get me there feeling supported and loved. You are my airline of choice because you care.
I was able to confirm Juan and the pilot’s names via social media. I first posted this story (along with all the gruesome details) on my Facebook page.
Thank you again SWA for your kindness and ability to look past everything you could see (and smell) and care for our souls.