It is not unusual to pinpoint the exact moment that life changes and those moments for me, are featured on a sliding scale from the perfectly wonderful, the first cries of my newborn son, to the quiet words spoken in a cold medical setting like, "it's cancer after all." Surely I am not the only one that has archived the key points in the historical crevices of my mind, not thrown out with the memories about who said what first word and when. No, the beautiful and the terrifying are kept close to the heart of the mind and can be pulled out quickly and are certain to fly out when you are least ready, for the laughter or the broken dam of tears.
Today, I learned a secret that I am clinging to right now but soon will place in it the vault of preciousness. The vault that holds my most tender moments, the glimpse of the ultrasound screen that had no blip, the words of cancer that came not once but twice, a boy that handed me the pieces of an engagement ring, pink lines on sticks, and so on. Today will be archived as the day I saw a glimpse of the future and it was not so scary after all. My oldest son and I spent a few hours cheering, visiting, taking pictures and video, and immersing ourselves fully in Special Olympics. A familiar event in theory but not one I had ever observed or participated in myself. How could I have known that it would hold a key to the secret I had been seeking?
The secret is that life is incredible. All lives are amazingly valuable and I was struck again and again of the loveliness of the event. It captured the day and gave real and unfamiliar meaning to the world we live in and the children we are raising, with and without special needs. I saw children doing their best, running, jumping, throwing and laughing, even in the rain. I witnessed observing classmates jumping up and down and shouting encouragement. I carefully watched my own ten year old son tentatively make his way to give participants high fives and then I glimpsed his guarded wall crumble and the veil lifted from his eyes.
I was most surprised by the relationships among the competitors. It was not just the classmates that had ridden along to be cheerleaders as I cheerfully expected. No, the participants yelled and cheered and directed their walkers and wheelchairs towards their competing friends to take a picture, give five or a fist bump, and offer a word of congratulations.
Of course. Why hadn't I expected this? It was because I didn't know we were all on the same team. I had shown up with my son on a dreary morning and thought we were there for them. No, the secret was that they were there for each other and us? Well, we watched and witnessed the beauty when everyone lives life like they are on the same team. We really are, you know and someday my Amos would be here, cheering for his friends and whether or not he competed, just doesn't feel so important anymore. That is my secret.