When you start on a journey you never fully know where you’re going to end up or what you’re going to run into along the way. There could be hurdles and obstacles that make you reevaluate your route and then there can be parts of the road you’re travelling that show nothing but sunny skies and clear pavement ahead. And that’s certainly the way it should be, I think
My Mom and Dad always taught me that nothing worth having comes easy. How true those words are.
I’ve spent some time over the last couple of weeks reliving our journey. I’ve done something that I haven’t done in a long, long time. I reread my blog. I started at entry number one and I’ve laughed and cried and laughed and cried again. I didn’t realize how much I had forgotten; how much has happened over the last 8 years ~ well, 24 years, really.
I had the opportunity this past week to have two very in-depth conversations with two people from different areas of my life. I value them both more than they realize, as each has had such a profound impact on my life.
One goes back to the days before Mikey and Tracey were married. She saw us sit in her living room for nights on end over many years. We talked our way through hard times and good times and times we’d rather forget all about. Many nights we were sure she was the only ally we had. She definitely is one person who has seen us at our lowest but has been there to watch us climb to the top of some very high mountains. We chatted about that in great detail recently. Who would have thought 25 or 26 years ago that this we call life would have taken the twists and turns that it has? I remember being a very young, naive girl sitting in her living room. If she had a crystal ball that she could have looked 10, 15, 20 or 25 years into the future and we could have seen what paths we were going to travel I think I would have laughed in her face and taken off for the hills. Even though there were a few years that saw our friendship sit simmering on the back burner, I always held a special spot for her in my heart. It’s hard in this day and age to find truly genuine people and we are so fortunate to have had the chance to rekindle our friendship with her. It’s like nothing has changed, but so much has. I am certainly not the naive young girl I once was. Outside of our immediate family, she is probably one of the few people who have been there through all those years to witness Mike and Tracey develop into Team Hilliard and all that has come with it.
The second person I had the chance to chat with recently has walked a long part of our journey with us but in a much different way. I had talked with her on the phone many times before we actually met face-to-face. She was a professional involved in Matthew’s life. Her decisions, her involvement had a great impact on Matthew’s academic life. We were new to the world of autism. We were new to the world of dealing with a special needs student in the classroom. We were again, very naive. We didn’t know anything. TA’s? Modifications? Adaptations? IPP’s? Psych-ed assessments?? What?? Our heads were spinning. I learned very quickly that I had a lot to learn. Mike called her, I called her and we asked questions. More questions than we probably should have but it was the only way we were going to learn. Then one day, when push came to shove, I had to go and meet her. I’ll never forget it. Mike had to work and there was no way I was going to talk to a ‘professional’ by myself. So I enlisted the help of my Daddy. I didn’t need him to come to talk, I just wanted someone else present. Someone to be there so I wouldn’t be intimidated. Yes, she was great on the phone but face-to-face in her office I was worried that being on her turf it would be her way or the highway. So in Dad came, and let me tell you, I couldn’t have been more wrong about how I thought that meeting was going to go. She was kind, she was compassionate, she was genuinely concerned about Matthew, about us and our well-being. There were decisions that had to be made concerning Matthew’s transition to a new school and at the end of the meeting I had heard what I thought I wanted to hear but I had to be sure. I said to her that I had to go home and tell Matthew something. I wanted to hear from her what exactly I could go home and say to him. She stated, emphatically, that I could go home and tell Matthew that what he needed to happen was going to happen and would stay in place as long as he needed it to be in place. This lady changed our lives. She was there, at that new school, to meet with Matthew on his first day, she continued regular follow-ups, she took the time to get to know him and us and she learned what made him tick. She, without a doubt, saved him. He didn’t fall through the cracks, he didn’t miss out on anything he needed to succeed and she made sure she kept informed as to his progress. She was (is) my ‘academic world’ angel.
As with our first relationship that I spoke about, there was a period of time that life went on its way and we didn’t need to be in such constant contact with this angel. That certainly didn’t prevent me from touching base with her a couple of times through the year to let her know how Matt was dong and what accomplishments he’s made. She was always so thankful. I was of the mindset that I’d be the first to pick up the phone or email if there was an issue, so why shouldn’t I be as quick to communicate when all was well, too. I know she appreciated it and I was just as appreciative to be able to relay to her when all was going well. A few years back I told her that when the day came for Matthew to walk across the stage to receive his high school diploma, I wanted her to be sitting right beside us. She played such a huge part in his schooling. Well that time is quickly approaching and when I was talking with her this week I reminded her of this. I couldn’t help but smile when her response was “I’ll take the Kleenex.”
These two people have had a vested interest in our family over the years. I wanted them to be there to see Matthew after he received his Youth Volunteer of the Year Award from our municipality this week. It wasn’t just about Matthew or our family. There are many, many people who have been an integral part of our journey and they should be able to celebrate that as well. Mike and I never could have done this by ourselves. We never ever would have gotten through some of our darkest days without so many people that have come into our lives. Our family, our friends and those people who helped and became friends. Because of Matthew we have been blessed to have so many people enter our world. To try and name them all or talk about them all here would be next to impossible but as I relived the last number of years this week these two people, in particular, stood out in my mind.
Although, due to circumstances beyond their control, neither were able to see Matthew this week, their hearts were with us. So many others were able to watch our boy receive his award from afar.
If I have learned anything from this little trip down Memory Lane I have realized that I truly appreciate the impact that every one (and I mean every – single – one) involved in our lives over the last 24+ years has had. We’ve crossed paths for a reason. And you have all helped mold me into the person I am today. The struggles, the joys, the laughs, the tears ~ some of these I have experienced with many of you. You have seen us through many different facets of our life and it is my hope that you will continue to be there for many more.
We have to all cherish the time we have with those closest to us and be open to let those in that we don’t always think will end up being vital. Sometimes it’s the people we least expect to have such a profound impact on our lives that end up making the biggest marks on our heart.
To the two ladies I hold close in this post, I thank you. I don’t know if you’ll ever even read this ~ that’s not why I’m writing it anyway, but I need these thoughts in print. You have been there for us. You have especially been there for me. I will never forget that.
Until next time…