My Son's Angel

I met an Angel just a few weeks ago.

She is not the kind that lives in heaven, but the other kind, the kind that lives on earth.

She doesn’t have a halo (at least not one you can see). This Angel has blonde hair and a smile that reveals her missing tooth--giving away her age much like the wrinkles around my eyes give away my own.

Like most other Angles that you read about, she came at a time that she was needed, and gave Hope to someone who needed it desperately.

What makes this Angel special to me is that she came to help my son, Gabriel.

You see, this young girl is in my Gabriel’s class, and unlike the other 20-something children that are only able to see how different he is, this young girl sees how alike they are.

This special girl chose to become his friend and share a unique kind of compassion that only the purest of heart can have. The kind of compassion granted to Angels.

But not every child has the strength to follow their heart and do what is right. For that matter, not every adult does either.

Which made me begin to worry. Worry that the burden of being my son’s friend would be too much for this child. Any child. I worried because I know that standing up for someone who can’t stand up for themselves is a test for anyone at any age.

And I knew that she would be tested.

Tested by older children and their mean words on the bus; tested by classmates who ridiculed her for being friends with my son; and tested by her own internal desire for self preservation.

I wondered how she would react and how her parents would feel about her choice.

Then one afternoon Gabriel came home and shared with me that his new found friend was tormented relentlessly on the bus until the young girl broke down and cried.

All for being friends with my son.

Gabriel tried to console her. Not sure why the other kids were being so mean, not concerned for himself, just for his friend. His only friend.

As Gabriel was retelling the day’s events, my heart broke for this young girl.

And as night fell I was consumed with worry about the burden this child had chosen to carry—a burden much heavier than her small shoulders should carry. And one much heavier than I feared she could carry.

Night turned to a new day and Gabriel had been invited to help her celebrate her birthday.

We arrived on the young girl’s doorstep that afternoon, me with butterflies in my stomach and Gabriel clutching a present wrapped in a special bag adorned with pink roses that he had chosen just for his friend.

After the cake was cut and the presents unwrapped, I decided it was time to tell her mother of the sacrifices her daughter was making in order to be friends with my son.

“Your daughter has become my son’s only friend and the other children are teasing her. I am so sorry for your daughter’s tears.”

And with conviction her mother replied,

“She is strong. She is a leader. Her father and I have told her that she can show the other children to have love in their hearts and be friends with everyone. The other children will follow her. We believe she can do it.”

And I cried.

Tears of joy.

Standing in her living room. Taking in the idea that this woman was strong enough and open enough to teach her child to be capable of true acceptance and compassion so rare that they would elevate her to be my son’s Angel. I was grateful. Deeply. Immensely. Grateful.

I don’t have the words to describe the deep unrelenting pain that grows in a mother’s heart every time her son complains of being lonely, of having no play dates, of not being invited to birthday parties, of being bullied or just simply having to eat lunch at a table all alone.

And I struggled to find the right words to thank this woman for raising such a beautiful daughter both inside and out. Thank you for giving her the strength and support to become the kind of woman, the kind of person, that this world needs. That my son needs.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

I have always known that one person can change the life of a child. But I left that birthday party knowing that this child, along with her family, had changed the life of MY child.

So with each passing day Gabriel gets on the bus, I know that he isn’t going alone. He has a very special Angel beside him. But don't look towards heaven or try to spot a halo because you might miss your chance to see her. Instead look for the small blonde girl with the missing tooth--she is sitting on the seat next to my son.

Here's to hoping there is an Angel for each of our children,
H

I encourage you to leave a comment for this young Angel and her family. I would like them to know how moms of special kids view people who are able to rise up and see not just our child’s disability, but the beautiful child that is inside each of them.

(Angel photo from mattstone.blogs.com )

34 comments:

carol said...

That made me cry. God bless your little Angel what a special little girl. I of course don't know your son but it made me think of the scene in Forrest Gump when the little girl tells Forrest to sit next to her. I hope they have a long lasting friendship that is beneficial to both parties.

Tami said...

Made me cry too. I don't have a child with special needs, but my sister does. I'm going to share this with my kids, post it on FB, and post it on my blog (http://ohforpetessake-tami.blogspot.com/). Everyone should read about this amazing child.

Anonymous said...

It is a beautiful thing to see Christ's love through others! It is powerful and can shake us to our very core. This child has had a burden placed on her heart...and not the kind that is a heavy weight to bear, but a burden of the best kind...the right kind. She is seeing your child with eyes that very few seem to be blessed with. What a wonderful gift to have at such a young age...to be able to show compassion, protection, and unconditional friendship to a classmate she just met this year is truly inspiring!

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Perfect that your son's name is Gabriel!

I love angels - every variety!

WriterGrrl said...

That's beautiful. I always find that the kids who treat my son well are the kids who are being brought up right. Compassion is learned. So is ignorance.

Jeff said...

Very well said. Gabe has acted differently since he began hanging out with the little girl. AND -- the smile on his face when she was leaving from the play date is one that I will remember for a long time.

Anonymous said...

I applaud this wonderful child, and her special parents for teaching her understanding and compassion. Many people, like Gabriel, have much to give us and teach us. If only more people could see what they are missing by not looking deeper. I hope the friendship lasts a long long time.

emmabenefiel said...

This has to be one of your touching blogs yet, this brought me to tears. I wish all parents could teach their children this lesson. What a beautiful family.

father of four said...

What a sweet and considerate child and such wonderful parents. We can all learn so much from them. Yes, I had a tear in my eye for my own son's angel.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this touching story. It made me cry also. Gabriel seems like a wonderful child and he will blossom into a fine young man. Thank you God for sending him this wonderful angel!!!

fio said...

that not only was a beautiful story, but a beautifully written one. thank you for sharing how you feel and i hope one day when this little angel grows up and does big things, she finds this and realizes that she had amazing people to help teach her right and wrong. i wish both your families the best as you grow together and i hope that your children can be seen in high school still chatting together and being friends.

Patty O. said...

Wow, how amazing. I too cried reading this. I would love for my son to have a friend like this. But you know what? More than that, I would love for my children to be friends like this. To be so strong in their convictions, so kind and brave. I so admire that little girl's parents. So admire them. And I want to emulate them, because the only way my kids are going to learn such bravery and kindness is if I teach them.

Thank you to that family for being such an amazing example and for truly making the world a better place!

Mickey said...

It worries me that our own special needs child will be bullied and made fun of and I can only pray that an angel finds her and wants to be her friend.

Brenda said...

What a gorgeous blog post. Thank you so much for sharing this story. And bless that Angel and especially her parents who are taking extraordinary steps to teach everyone. All it takes is one Angel at a time. My son has autism. I would love him to have an Angel one day. Thank you, Angel's parents, for your miracle.

Elise asd2mom.spaces.live.com said...

There are people in this world who truely understand what it means to be human, to feel compassion and have a soul. This little girl is a treasure. May heaven bless her and her family.

On another note, I have to add my voice to the question, where in the world is the bus driver and the school? Why do these adults allow both your son and this girl to be so abused both on the bus and marganalized in school?

Susie said...

Does she have a sister ? a brother? We could use an angel :) What a fantastic family they are! This was a beautiful and touching post.

Sandie said...

My daughter has an Angel similar to yours, her only friend that will move from a seat in an instant for Maggie, will let Maggie go first, will sit by her at lunch and play with her at recess. She is the ONLY reason Maggie will go to school willingly!! These incredible child size Angels give us hope! Thank you for sharing Hartley, I was in tears over the beauty of your sons Angel!

Shelley said...

This made me cry. My son has an angel too, but in a different way. Our angel is Miss Melanie. One of his caregivers.
She doesn't see Reece as a special needs boy. She just sees him as a special boy. I love her for loving my son.

Addie said...

This was so heartwarming to read. Thank you for sharing. I am thankful for this girl and the rold her supportive family plays in yours and your son's life. It reminded me of a friend's daughter: she's 10 and borderline Asbergers completely smitten with an autistic boy in her class. She told her mom she'll have to make a lot of money in her chosen profession because she knows she'll need to support her man. Kids are so naturally compassionate and loving it's wonderful when parents know how to nurture those gifts and allow them to act on them.

Gimky said...

Thank you for sharing this amazing story. I love your blog. Angel and your family, from so many families like Hartley's and mine, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

marythemom said...

Oh I so want all of my kids to be angels. I'm always amazed that my son, who has a lot of issues of his own (almost all behavioral), is reported to be great with younger kids and kids with more special needs than he has.

Mary in TX

Shelia said...

Awwwwwwww.....truly a little angel. What a little sweetie....bless her heart. And like you said...Kudos to her parents for raising such a wonderful child. I only hope my child is fortunate enough to run into kind spirited children such as this instead of some of the more mean spirited ones.

Have a Blessed New Year!

Shelia :)

Kath said...

Oh. My. Goodness. I'm in tears. God Bless Gabriel's Angel and her family. Such a selfless, pure, gentle child, and so strong to stand up for what's right. We need more Angels in the world! My Aspie with SPD is incredibly fortunate to have a couple of best buds who handle his quirks with grace. Before he knew them, he was so lonely and confused about why he was alone; he wants so much to be a friend and have friends. It's a rare treasure of a child who's willing and able to go against what's "cool" to do the right thing. Thanks for sharing about Angel.

Anonymous said...

We finally had our first OT meeting this week and identified our 4 year old as having SPD. The very next day I found myself staring at the special needs book section and wanting to bawl just because I saw a title that said "Why is it so much work being your friend". Our 7 year old was diagnosed with ADHD just a few months ago, our 4 year old now has SPD and (sniff) I'm pregnant and scared to be handed another serving (yet we had a small thought that having another one might make our 4 year old SPD child 'grow-up' a bit and be stretched to be more 'normal' cause maybe it WAS our fault and we were babying him too much). I found your blog tonight.. a wealth of information.. but especially this posting really hits home. Thank you for sharing your experience about your son's little angel. I'm praying that God places many more children like this in our world even if my own child isn't lucky enough to have one.. cause my heart really goes out to all you SPD moms.

Megan said...

I have to say this story left me in tears. I use to drop my son off at school everyday knowing he is the light of my life and such an outgoing spirited child but no one seemed to look past his little quirks. It really took an angle just like this little girl to hold out his hand and say “let’s play.” My son came home from school, grinning ear to ear and told me all about his new friend and how he got to play with someone during recess. I cried tears of joy, and sadness as my son for the first time at the age of 8 got to play with a real friend. It took a few months but slowly he had one more friend, and then two, and now he has a handful of friends – both boy and girl to brighten up each day. He no longer asks me if he can stay home, or why no one likes him. I am grateful for that one little friend for reaching out to my son. I am grateful for that boy’s family for teaching their son to look past other peoples differences and get to know the real person that is there. There are true angels walking amongst us, and our children are lucky to know them.

GB's Mom said...

What a remarkable child, what remarkable parents. I hope GB finds an angel of her own.

Anonymous said...

What wonderful parents she has! Kids really do learn from example. I hope that I can show my children how to be nice to everyone as well as these parents have.
The world is a better place with people like them in it.

googly said...

I read your post and thought of my son's angel. Craig was born with Ectodermal Dysplasia, and as a result I fear he will be teased beacuse of his teeth. I grew up with it too and remember being called a "Vampire" as a child. One day he came home and asked if "he" was a vampire. I asked him why, and he said a kid at school asked. I wanted to cry, then little Ainsley's mom told me her and Craig play vampires all the time, and it is one of her favorite games, and he is one of her favorite people.

I can't tell you what it means to know there are people out there who ARE raising their kids to be compassionate people. It reafirms my faith in humanity.

googly said...

I read your post and thought of my son's angel. Craig was born with Ectodermal Dysplasia, and as a result I fear he will be teased beacuse of his teeth. I grew up with it too and remember being called a "Vampire" as a child. One day he came home and asked if "he" was a vampire. I asked him why, and he said a kid at school asked. I wanted to cry, then little Ainsley's mom told me her and Craig play vampires all the time, and it is one of her favorite games, and he is one of her favorite people.

I can't tell you what it means to know there are people out there who ARE raising their kids to be compassionate people. It reafirms my faith in humanity.

Danette said...

Wow! Very moving post. Any mother of a child with special needs knows how painful the lack of friendships is to their child, but thank you for putting it in such moving words. We need more leaders and kids to stand up, and as you have shown, this starts at home. What a gift this mother has given her child--the strength to be herself, the courage to withstand peer pressure, and the chance to get to know Gabriel!

leechbabe.com said...

An amazing child and wonderful parents.

Candi said...

Ok, tears filled my eyes as I sit here to read the beautiful account of your Angel on Earth. My son had an Angel just like her when he was in Pre-school.
Bless her. May she always show what a true heart she has. It is a tough job being a leader. She has made my heart sing.

Candi

Candi said...

Through my tears tonight I read your story. What a Beautiful little girl to show such compassion. My son had an Angel just like her when he was in Pre-school.
Being a Leader is a hard job to take on, but she is truly destined to be a Angel in many hearts. My heart sings tonight because of her.

Candi

Jason and Kim said...

Priceless. Truly priceless.