April 27, 2011

"Starry Night" Prom 2011

"Jeremy has a crush on your daughter. He thinks she's cute and wants her to be his date to the prom"

My eyelids fluttered rapidly trying to comprehend the thought. What could any young man see in our daughter? I mean really, as cold as this may sound let's be frank, one of Autism's primary features is an icy aloof manner. Affection is not one of their strong suites, leaving the odds of receiving palpable affection rather unfavorable. Trust me they experience hurt, love, joy, fear, and anxiety like everyone else, but the good stuff is often bottle up inside, making the whole package an enigma, riddle, and conundrum rolled in one.

Which points me back to the dubious question, what does this young man see in her? Furthermore, is this really real or something the workers at her day hab unconsciously concocted to make the experience more mainstream and normal? With eye lids still a flutter, the mystery refused to subside. One thing was for sure, I had to see this for myself.

Now, I'd met Jeremy before. He and Dani were king and queen of the prom last year, to which Dani cried most of the time because she didn't like being the center of attention or in the camera's sites. Jimmy always photographs these events so she keeps her eye on him and develops a fuss whenever he turns her direction. (Lately he's been sneaking photos of her using his iPhone but she's learned it takes pictures too. Autistics are smart as can be. Never underestimate their observation skills.) Whenever she was happy at last year's dance her primary interest was the cookies and punch on the refreshment table. She couldn't have cared less about participating as queen posing with the king and I vividly remember being a bit disappointed she didn't have a better time, so the thought of her being a date this year was too slippery to grasp.

Taking a half day off work to attend the event, I ran home, met up with Jimmy, and arrived at her location just as everyone was getting dressed for the prom. With her long pink dress draped over my left arm and bag on my right shoulder loaded with her black paten leather shoes, white frilly socks, and matching hair bow, I traipsed room to room looking for the reigning queen. With all the hustle bustle of pre prom prep everyone was out of their usual spot, leaving me no clue to her location. It took one of Dani's friends pointing me in her direction to get on track. With a few other assists, I zeroed in on her location all to arrive in a room filled with special adults primping for the prom.

My first sight was that of a Down's Syndrome lady who had on what I believe was a donated dress. Outdated in color and style, the garment was not only clean and tidy, but fit her pumpkin shape rather well. She grinned ear to ear as Bekah applied her eye shadow, blush, and lipstick. With a curling iron at her side, the final touches were made to the hair, her pearls were positioned just right, and she lifted up from her metal folding chair for all to admire. She no doubt felt royal all gussied up for the dance and I smiled watching her delight grow by the second. Then, all of a sudden, time stood still as my mind spun back 2,000 years. It was completely involuntary and near overwhelming. Sure as shootin' the realization came to light, not five feet in front of me I was witness to a modern day illustration of John 13 when Jesus washed the disciples' feet. A stronger one's love lending aid and encouragement to one weaker and in need. The scene touched my heart in a spot rarely ever grazed, the forever sensitive scar of sacrifice I've carefully tended to since God called Jimmy and I to serve our own sweet baby.

I'd no sooner traveled back in time when paged back to the present as one of the workers eagerly approached showing me a picture on her phone. Apparently before we arrived Dani was holding hands with her last year's king and upon doing so asked the worker to take a picture to show me. I wouldn't have believed it but the photo was evidence and even as we hovered over the tiny screen in her palm, Dani walked over to Jeremy and took his hand. She knew what she was doing, she clearly enjoyed it, and was sincere to boot. A far cry from last year's focus of foraging off the snack table.

I saw Dani in a new light at the 2011 prom. Her father and I look forward to the day in heaven when we'll meet our little girl whole and complete as God originally intended her to be. But this day, out of the blue and by His grace and mercy, we were allowed an early glimpse of our child living behind Autism's door. She has the sweetest spirit, most kind heart, and great taste in men.

That's my girl!


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Only tears...

My heart is enlarged because of yours.


Cheryl Barker said...

Nancy, I'm so glad that God gave you this special time with Dani. How very precious. And how precious and glorious it will be when one day she is made whole in heaven. Can't imagine how that thought must make you feel...

Happy Little Trees Studio said...

So touching.....!!