With soooooooo....many jingly, shiny keys, how did he know which key unlocked which door? As a 6 year old, the school seemed huge and the possible doors for which those keys could open seemed endless. Surely, I felt, our school janitor, Mr. B, must have had some type of magical power or super brain to remember which key fit inside which door.
Mr. B was a gentle giant...at least that's how I remember him. He knew every nook and cranny of the school as it was his job to keep the school running and to keep the inmates from running the asylum. We all knew there were doors that kids weren't allowed to go in, the "Staff Only" doors that were shrouded in mystery and rumors that always made us wonder what exactly was behind THAT door. Mr B knew. He knew what was behind every door and he knew the right key he needed to open it. Finding the right key, was the only way to get into that mysterious room without blowing it up, knocking it down or doing some type of damage in the process to see what lies inside. And the person who holds the key, gets the thrill of opening the door and seeing just what is behind that door. Mr B was so lucky.
We tried therapies, groups and various activities like soccer, baseball and swimming and although I believe some of those activities pried the door open a bit, others were more like a battering ram trying to force open a door that was sealed tight. None of these keys I tried, unlocked a door for Ryan like music. Music was THE key (no pun intended) and the reason I couldn't unlock the door was because I did not hold the key. Fortunately for Ryan, he found someone who did.
The keyholder started at Ryan's middle school the same year Ryan did. I don't believe in coincidences. I believe Mr. Myers always had the key to unlock the music inside my boy, we just had to wait patiently for him to show up and share it with us. I don't wait well, but, now that the wait is over, I can AWEnestly say that Mr. Myers was worth the wait.
Once Mr. Myers unlocked the door, something clicked inside Ryan that we have never seen before. Over time, he literally and figuratively opened up. Ryan's confidence soared instilling in him a sense of pride we have never witnessed before. He has become independent and courageous and this has enabled him to reach out socially and take risks he would have never taken before Mr Myers opened the door. Ryan has found an outlet where his social differences aren't as noticeable. When Ryan is singing, he becomes a leader, an example, a voice that others wait anxiously to hear.
This confidence, this leadership has lead Ryan to places he has never been, places that a worried mom feared he would never go because she could not find the key, she could not unlock the door. By unlocking this door, Mr. Myers has unwittingly opened other doors that may have forever remained closed. How do you ever repay someone who shows up with the right key and unlocks a door you have waited 10 years to see what was inside? There is no gift, no gesture grand enough, so you just say, "thank you" (1.5 million times) and you spend the rest of your days being grateful that he took a chance, he searched for the key and he unlocked the door.
I think just like my elementary school janitor, Mr. Myers knew all along what was waiting behind the door. By listening closely, Mr. Myers could hear what was on the other side of that door. Not only could Mr. Myers hear it, he could see it too. He could see past the differences, see past the autism and just see Ryan which took away the mystery, the doubt of what was behind the door. Mr. Myers knew that Ryan held the key all along, he just needed someone to help him turn it.
Ryan's dad may have passed down the key and I may have lead Ryan to the door that I hoped the key would one day open, but, Mr Myers helped Ryan turn the key. Without him, Ryan may have stood at the threshold of that doorway forever, never taking the chance to open it. What a tragedy that would have been. We may have all played a role in helping Ryan open the door that quite possibly could have forever remained lock, but, Mr. Myers gave Ryan the confidence he needed to try the key and open the door on his own.
So thank you Mr. Myers for opening a door that I believe will lead to a series of other doors for my beautiful son. Thanks to you, now Ryan holds the key and I believe he has the courage to use that key to open more doors that may have once remained closed if it weren't for you. Doors that will prove to him, and others, that what lies on the other side is not mysterious, strange, or terribly "different", it's just a room waiting to be filled with friends, happiness, love....and music.