Wee went to a 3-day anti drug/alcohol/tobacco event this week. I practically had to beat him over the head to get him to go, but he's not been terribly involved in extracurricular activities in HS and I had talked with- another mom whose daughter is very involved in this... it just seemed like something he should do. He goes to a private HS and I think we know 3 families out of the 1600, one of which was at the event. About 120 kids went to the event. We picked him up today at the event location, arriving early to see the closing festivities and hear a speaker on "family life". difficult child is home this weekend (first time in 3 months) so we were there in all our glory, though difficult child did tone down his attire (Catholic HS, Christian camp, can we please just be a little conformist for Wee's sake?). Boo was his usual vocal self - he laughs quite loudly, but appropriately. He is a very spastic guy and tends to throw his arms out, and in the bright yellow wheelchair (his choice)... well, we get stares anyway so nothing new. We kind of just ignore them. This was the first school event we all showed up to - I guess to be honest I had kinda been avoiding it because ... well, it's complicated even in my own head. I don't want pity, I don't want to distract... guess I can't describe it real well. Anyway... Speaker on family life was Wee's honors English teacher, a class where he is usually on the brink of not passing. I was hoping we'd be anonymous because quite frankly I'm embarrassed at Wee's pathetic performance in spite of our efforts to get him to buck up. Fat chance. She talked about the family she grew up in, how her sister's onset of mental illness at 12 affected the family and still does, how her brother's drug use affected the family and still does. She talked about detachment and boundaries (not in those exact words, but that's what it was) and how while in her early years her extended family was extremely close, once her parents moved to a different state and her sibs started to have issues, how her immediate family became very distant. I was quite moved and husband was suspiciously wiping his eyes. But she didn't stop there. She talked about how she married and was a stay at home mom with her 6 kiddos, how they didn't have a lot but how much joy she took in her family and being a mom. How when one son was 11, he was hit by a car and suffered a severe brain injury. How after 9 months at the best facilities in the Chicago area, they were advised to institutionalize him. She refused and they brought him home, a child with spastic quadriplegia, a feeding tube, minimal awareness of his surroundings that progressed over the years to being able to use a communication device to play songs and being able to nod yes and no. At this point, husband and I were both freely crying (and husband does not cry), because that's Boo to a tee. She talked about how her life as a mother changed, how her focus became the child with the disability. She talked about the stares and the isolation and the things they did without and the places they couldn't go, but also the places they did go and the people who embraced them. She talked about her love for her son and how it was unquestionably the right thing to bring him home and the joy that he brought. He died of congestive heart failure and pulmonary complications (not uncommon in quads) in 2005. I'm guessing he was in his mid 20s. At this point, husband and I were both fighting the urge to flee the room. She talked about how her children are much closer than she and her siblings are. How she and her husband weathered the storms and have been married 43 years. Talked about faith and the Church (which I won't go into here obviously). Talked about how life didn't turn out like she had pictured, but that it was okay. Well.... husband and I were exhausted by the time she got done. We had to wait to get out, because Boo's wheelchair is like a darn tank, especially in close quarters. And I had to speak with- this woman. I did notice that it seemed like there were a lot fewer stares and glances from other parents and the students. I'm not sure I actually spoke with her when we made our way to her. I hugged her, in retrospect it seems like for quite a long time (hope she doesn't think I'm completely off my rocker, LOL). Her first words to me were "It looks like you're traveling a similar road." We laughed about how life *is* a funny thing, about how we showed up today as she shared her journey. I didn't share with her that we know the mental illness/drug use path as well - it was already too much. It struck me as I was driving us home that things do happen for a reason and sometimes we even get to see a glimpse of the reason. This was really the perfect moment to introduce my family to our new HS family (it is a surprisingly close-knit school). You just never know the path that others are on or when you will run into a fellow traveler. I am feeling very thankful right now. Today is our 22nd anniversary, and I'm very grateful to be traveling this road with- my husband.