Yesterday, my kids and I participated in our first Walk for Autism event. We walked as part of a team organized by a dear friend.
The walk was only one mile, but I learned that walking a mile with a four-year-old and six-year-old can take a while. My daughter complained about aches in multiple parts of her body: ankles, feet, knees and legs. She even told me she was starting to get a headache and that she needed to take a nap. THAT from a child who hasn't napped in at least two years.
But I was so glad I went.
The friends on our team all wanted to know how I am doing. They wanted to know about my children.
They told me how much they have been praying for me and my kids.
One of my son's former teachers and her boyfriend -- a man I had never before met -- walked right beside me and the kids. They helped me keep my son, who was very excited by the whole event, from straying too far and from leaping into the nearby pond (and, oh, how he wanted to jump right in!). They even carried my children. This man whom I had never even met put my children on his shoulders. He laughed at my son's, uhm, enthusiasm. He spoke in calm, quiet words to them both and walked hand-in-hand with my son on multiple occasions.
I saw so many groups of people walking in matching shirts -- all of them supporting a child who has been affected by autism. They wore shirts with slogans like: Kennedy's Kool Krewe or Henry's Helpers.
I saw brothers and sisters walking hand-in-hand with a sibling affected by autism.
It was a a beautiful sight.
I sometimes feel, especially these days, like my walk through life is mostly uphill. But as I walked yesterday with old friends and new, with strangers who smiled at my children because they know -- they know what it means to truly love a child with autism -- I thought of how thankful I was to know so many people who will help at a moment's notice. Mom and Dad, dear freinds, what would I do with you?