Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas, Leesburg!

Sarah is beautiful and unique. About a week ago, someone stole a picture of her in the hospital from a post I had written for the disability community website, The Mighty.

So, I was a little worried about going out in a big crowd with Sarah. It's not like we've never done it before. We go out all the time. But after last week's reminder that people can be awful, I was anxious.
But my other daughter, Lily, was in a parade. And my family was coming from out of state to see Lily in the parade. So we couldn't just blow it off. There was no way around it; we were going.

As we were walking up the sidewalk toward the parade route, a little girl ahead of us kept turning around and looking hard at Sarah then whispering something urgent to her mom. It happened several times and my hackles started to go up. Kids can be cruel and parents rarely know how to react. Finally her mom stopped and turned around and said, "I'm sorry. Is this Sarah?" That sweet girl remembered Sarah from a visit to the play area at the mall. And she remembered her name. She just wanted to say hello to her friend.

We found prime parade watching real estate in front of a beautiful house on King Street and we sat down and waited for the revelry to begin. The kids were excited. Our group had several cousins huddled and giggling on the curb.

Finally the parade came! Fire trucks with lights flashing! And... Sarah was crying. Bawling. Because of her medical condition, she has a history with emergency vehicles. She thought they were coming to pick her up.  She's signing, "All done! All done!" I put her in her wheelchair, wondering if she was just going to miss the whole parade.

The lady next to me offered Sarah her necklace but Sarah wouldn't be distracted with beautiful gifts. The lady said that this was her house and if we need to step away, we could use her driveway. So, I moved to the driveway and Sarah, sweet Sarah, calmed down. The friendly lady came back. If we needed anything, please tell her. We could sit on the porch or watch from the window or even if we just need a bathroom or something to drink, to please just ask. I could have hugged her.

Eventually Sarah was drawn in by the floats in the parade, so we brought her back to the street, but still in her chair for a quick escape if necessary. We were close, but not in the middle of her throng of cousins. A little girl on the other side noticed that since Sarah was in a chair she couldn't scramble for the candy which was being tossed to the bystanders. So, she scrambled and collected for Sarah. Every time. Even though it meant less candy for her. Yup. I saw a small child give up candy willingly and of her own volition to make sure that my daughter was included.

But then a tow truck came by with flashing lights and Sarah was upset again. It was nearly the end of the parade and she was really unhappy this time, so I decided it was time to just leave. I couldn't get up sidewalk because the crowd was too thick. We were toward the end of the parade route though, so the floats were not evenly spaced anymore and there was a bit of a lull. I just walked up the road.  We were not in the middle; if a float had come there was plenty of room. But we were walking on a parade route past people enjoying a parade. So, they waved and wished Sarah, "Merry Christmas." And with all the regality my tired sweetheart could muster, she waved back.

It was like a hug from the town. And we needed it. Thank you, Leesburg. You're awesome.

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