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An Unexpected Gift

I rarely get to see my entire family together – maybe once every couple of years. I’m the oldest of five, and with some of us married and each of us living in a different state these days, it is not often that we’re all under one roof. So as my visit approached with the whole gang I felt super excited, but also a little anxious about the chaos level for James – the volume alone can be unsettling to a typical person, let alone one with serious sensory issues. And though I love them all dearly, my rowdy, sarcastic, fun-loving (adult) brothers don’t really have the first clue about how to handle a disabled child. Instead of handling James with kid gloves as many of our friends and family do, they have a more “take no prisoners” approach. Literally.

This picture depicts a scene right before leaving my parents condo after an all around fantastic visit. We were trying to get on the road because we wanted to be home in time for a decent bedtime – the kids’ schedules had already been messed up enough with holiday festivities. But it was indescribably hard for me to tear James away from his surprising and fabulous role of “typical nephew,” just hanging with the guys, ready to take on the enemy and the world one dart at a time.

I almost hate to try and describe the scene for fear that I won’t do justice to the simple, pure joy that watching James brought me for the first time in a while. I was captivated completely, frozen in the hallway just mesmerized by James as he strategically planned out his next invasion, not minding that he was getting nailed with Nerf darts, not minding the screaming and shouting that surrounded him, not minding being picked up, thrown over my brother’s shoulder and carried up the stairs – all things that would’ve normally made him teary and anxious. As someone who has been reminded of James’s differences, shortcomings and disabilities all too often over the past couple of months, being able to watch him fit in and feel good (as was written all over his face) was such an amazing gift. Even more, watching others play, rough house, and joke with him as they would any other 11 year old boy brought a few moments of peace to my heart that I didn’t even begin to realize how much I had needed.

So little brothers, thank you! I bet you had no idea that your insane, over-the-top, noisy Nerf battle would ever be spoken of so fondly. I have received many wonderful and touching gifts this past week, but this gift, wholly unexpected, is still one of my favorites, and I know it was one of James’s favorites too (even if he thinks it was his ipod).

I’ll return to the regular posting schedule once school resumes next week. In the meantime I hope everyone is enjoying a fantastic holiday!

  1. Dona
    December 29, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    A beautiful account of a family I have loved for many years now. As a mom of a special needs child I can truly relate to the celebration of “normal”. (This also made me cry).

  2. kathryn reilly
    December 29, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Gosh this made me cry. wish I had been there with you guys. we decided you were all the crazy side of the family! ha kathryn, buffalo

  3. whitesilk1
    December 29, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Great seeing you guys and having everyone together. Hopefully it wont be another 2 years b4 this happens again

  4. Amber DeMartino
    December 29, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Some gifts we hold in our hands, some in our hearts. This story about James is one of those we hold in our hearts. Hope to meet him sometime.

  5. Ed gerrity
    December 29, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Equally rewarding and fun for us. James is a great kid!

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