I've never been to the beach so many times in one summer than this summer. The boys and I were there a total of four times over spring and summer. One time it was with their daddy and the other times my, very incredible, parents accompanied us. My main reason for planning these trips was to fill up the long endless summer with fun stuff to do so that Jacob didn't get cabin fever and go all crazy on me. We had some crazy moments throughout the summer but it seemed these trips came at the most perfect times. Another reason I am drawn to the beach is because it's one of the few places I feel like we can go and blend in with everyone else. Jacob, to everyone else looks like a typical 6 year old boy playing on the beach with his family. They don't know he has differences about him and I feel free.
One late morning while standing on the beach watching Jacob play, he was so full of excitement and holding back nothing, I quietly told my dad "I love being here, because I feel like this is one of the few places that I feel normal." He smiled and agreed and we basked in the moment of "normalness" for a moment or two. Not long after our conversation I looked over to the right of me and noticed a mom and her three daughters, and what looked to be their grandma. I watched as the girls played in the water, jumping over the waves and splashing around. Then I noticed that the mom wouldn't let go of the oldest daughter. She seemed to be steadying her while the waves were coming in and every time a big wave would come she would hold on to her with a death grip as the other smaller girls were playing freely.
This little girl captured my attention with her cute little green bathing suit and her pink sunglasses with the elastic strip attached to them so they wouldn't fall off. She was smiling bigger than any of the kids out there. I immediately knew that this little girl had a special story just like Jacob has a special story. I wasn't sure of her disability but it was very evident that there was a special need of some sort. I tried to refrain from staring but I'm so drawn to these kids now, that it's hard to get my attention off of them. I thought about striking up a conversation but then I decided to let them be, and let them feel as normal as possible too.
About that time the little girl in the green bathing suit came over and gave me a huge hug and her mom quickly followed her. The mom leaned over and tried to get the little girl to say hello and I could tell it was a struggle for her. I asked the little girl her name and it was hard for her to tell me that her name was Sarah. I asked the mom about Sarah and she informed me that Sarah had autism. Of coarse we quickly struck up a conversation about autism and all the things that autism moms talk about...I'll spare you the long drawn out details. I found out that they lived only about 45 minutes from us and that they have considered moving to Auburn. We talked for a long while until all the kids were getting hungry for lunch and we parted ways.
After leaving the beach that day I thought back to the conversation I had with my dad. It reminded me that although we have many struggles, there are families out there that have more. This little girl was almost 8 years old and could barely say her name. We are blessed that Jacob not only can say his name but he knows how to spell it and he can carry on a fairly normal conversation. He can tell me when he's hurt and he can tell me that he loves me (over and over and over again). It was a subtle reminder of how blessed beyond measure we are with this little boy named Jacob.