I hear their voices. I hear their silence. I hear the way they speak to him as if he were a young child. Sometimes, I wish I had ear plugs.
I feel my sadness. I feel my anger. I feel the ache deep in my heart. Sometimes, I wish I had no heart.
These feelings often sweep over me, and settle on my chest, directly over my heart to the point of suffocation, but, then, the feelings go as quickly as they came leaving me to breathe easy once again. Anymore, these moments and these feelings are few and far between, but, when they come, they leave a scab that I tend to pick at for days until eventually the scab heals with just a small scar that is visible only to me.
It wasn't Ryan who wanted to bolt out that old church door to escape the feelings that overwhelmed him, it was me. As I sat in the church, with little to no air moving, my chest felt heavy. I wanted to run out of the room with my old friends Denial and Clueless, who had slid in next to me on the pew when I wasn't looking making the hot church feel even closer, to escape what my brain and my heart were feeling. So consumed with my watching, waiting and worrying for what had always been, there may have been a few moments that I missed what really was.
Once the performance began, once my son stood shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the chorale ensemble in front of the non-air conditioned church, he blended in with the others. He did not stand alone, he did not appear "different". There was no aloof stance, there was no awkward smile. There was just the music and his voice. Suddenly, I felt my heartbeat slow down and the church no longer felt so stifling.
As he finished his song, there were smiles, there were high fives, and there were "good jobs". Even after all that, a part of me still worried that their smiles, their high fives, and their "good jobs" may not have been sincere, that they may have been a bit patronizing because they saw "different", but, when I watched my boy take his bow then fight back his own tears of pride, I realized that what matters most to Ryan is how sees, how he hears and how he feels about himself. Ryan spends little time concerning himself with how others perceive him. A lesson we could all learn from him.
Had I worn my blindfold, had I brought my ear plugs, had I removed my heart, I would not have seen him, heard him or felt him and there is no worry great enough and no pain deep enough, worth missing that. As for their smiles, their high fives, and their "good jobs", they may not have been insincere or patronizing, but, even if they were, I need to take a lesson from my son and recognize who and what really matters.
Once again, Ryan showed me, it is my problem, not his and it is a problem I believe he has already solved.