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355B6050-7478-471F-8B9B-EEC9ED3632C2This is a picture of Julia walking to class.  Her case manager sent it to me yesterdy.  He wrote:  “Hey, I was following Julia and a peer in the hall, talking like best buds.  Not sure who her friend is, but I’m happy she has made strong connections with reg ed peers.”

It is a great picture.

When I looked at it, my first impulse, after a good hearted motherly smile, is to race to the story of Julia making a friend, going over someone’s house, talking too long on the phone, telling secrets to someone (not me), going to a sleepover, having a party.  And then, I stop.  

I practice staying in the present moment every day.  Sometimes I’m not bad at it on the cushion (I know, judgment) but I am pretty awful at it off that cushion (Ok, another judgement). I think there were many times in Cheshire’s growing life that I was, without any practice at all, in the present moment.  I did not listen to her playing at a violin recital and compose the story of her musical career, when I saw her in a formal, I did not imagine a wedding.  However, with Julia, I am always in extended story mode.  Every slight gain—every milestone which is a milestone only for a kid without social skills, every homework assignment completed relatively independently, every request that is somewhat age appropriate—I imagine to be a step on a ladder, a developmental highlight which will lead somewhere better and greater.  More, better, further along the road to a typical life.

It is exhausting and sad.  It usually ends up as good ol’dukkha, Buddhist suffering.  The second arrow, worry about her future.

Yesterday, I stopped the story and just looked at the picture.  To walk along a high school hall with another student, talking.  This, just this, is something I’ve hoped for and wanted for my girl.  And it happened.