Special days

I've been surrounded by excitement for a large portion of my visit here in Atlanta. Between the 9 year old's birthday party, which was delightful, and last night's prom, there's been a lot of anticipation and pockets of giddiness.

The prom never got explained on here, though, did it? Let me back up. Cindi teaches high school students with special needs. Last night their school had their prom and three of her students went. Wow. It's always, always good to try and experience life through the eyes of someone else. Last night was a fantabulous opportunity for me to do that. We met their families early for dinner. Walking into the room and seeing the smiles on their faces, "S" wearing a white dress shirt over her white dress to keep it clean until after she'd finished eating, "T" wearing his purple tie and vest, grinning from ear to ear at the other end of the table, offering high fives, and "D" cocking his head a little to the side to sit back and let us take in the impact of how great he looked in his turquoise vest and tie, I felt really lucky. But not in the way you might think. (When I say that, I usually mean lucky to be me, or to have the life I live.) I wasn't thinking of that at all, although of course I am. I felt lucky, fortunate to have the opportunity to spend time with them...to go and witness their special night.

Without going into a play-by-play of all the gloriously colorful scenes I witnessed as these three ventured into yet another new arena, I'll tell you my favorite part about being there. Walking into the room, seeing the regular ed students as we walked by and seeing the look of recognition on some of their faces, hearing their voices as here and there somone would call out the names of the students we accompanied. High fives, hugs, handshakes for one or the other, everywhere we went, with genuine pleasure at seeing them there. The acceptance and enjoyment of these students' presence was gratifying in a way that surpassed my expectations when I'd thought of it in advance.

Hope. That was one of the senses I came away with. And a reminder of how important it is to do what you love. Watching Cindi and her fellow special ed teachers was an important reminder of that. Amazing.

Meanwhile I'll try real hard not to think too much about a few of the dance moves I saw. And I'm not talking about "our" special ed student dancers, either...