Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there was a picnic. Families parked cars, children excitedly chattered, and the smell of fried chicken permeated the air. But this was no ordinary picnic.
Moms stood in small circles, discussing the events of the day. Dads shook hands and played cornhole. Children climbed playground equipment. There was sunshine. But this was no ordinary picnic.
Approximately 70 people gathered. And they all shared a common bond. One they never anticipated, but yet it had forged deep unions. In fact, if you observed from a distance, and you did not know better, you might guess that they were family. They had all been adopted into their own family. But it was not ordinary.
Directions were given and the line began to form. A clap of thunder sounded overhead, and rain quickly soaked the ground. The families gathered the children and moved indoors. No one really batted an eye at the storm. You see, these families were used to storms. A little rain never hurt anyone. If the wind blows a different direction, you just adjust your sails. They knew this from experience. Because they were not at an ordinary picnic.
As people took their places around the tables, shoulder to shoulder, and began to eat, there was a camaraderie in the air. Knowing glances were exchanged, smiles were bestowed, helping hands were given. This group of people… they were seasoned hikers on the road less traveled. Sometimes they ran, sometimes they walked, sometimes they limped, and sometimes they crawled. No man was left behind. They soldiered on, together. Because they were not ordinary, and this was no ordinary picnic.
There were doctors present, interacting with small children. There were feeding tubes beeping and blood glucose being monitored. Sign language was used, wheelchairs were pushed, and love abounded. Because this was no ordinary picnic.
There was a tired look about the eyes of the adults. A well-worn, thread-bare beauty…one that is only forged in the fire. One that shines through after living through a devastating phone call, tears in an ICU, or behind closed doors in an office when a doctor suggests that the parents of his patient sit down. The children carried on as if they did not notice this depth in the atmosphere. They didn’t know any different. There was laughter. There was compassion. There were celebrations. There were tears. This picnic was not ordinary at all.
It was extraordinary.
Goodbyes were said at the end of the evening and well wishes were made.
Hugs were exchanged. Bonds had been strengthened.
And the families left to forge ahead on their journey…together.
And they all knew… it was anything but ordinary.
Lauren Beckner, the mom of three extraordinary little girls, lives in Daleville, Va. and works as a Resource Coordinator for Medical Home Plus (MHP). Lauren also is the Director of MHP’s Special Families of the Roanoke Valley program serving families in the Roanoke area, specifically. The Special Families closed Facebook group can be found via: https://www.facebook.com/groups/256005984411410/ MHP, www.medhomeplus.org, is a statewide organization that serves families of children with special health care needs through Resource Coordination and IEP Advisory services provided by other parents of special children.