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  • Writer's pictureSarah Swindell

A Night To Remember

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

Dawson and Kacie

It has been an interesting week for me as a mom and emotions were all over the map ranging from sadness to pure joy. It could be a little bit of pre menopause but hate to blame it all on that because no woman wants to hear that even if it is true, right?!

Dawson is a senior in high school. It is hard sometimes to see on social media all the other seniors that are getting into the college of their dreams, having their senior pictures done for announcements, and 18th birthday party celebrations filled with photos of friends hugging, smiling and enjoying the gateway birthday into real adulthood. Thoughts of all the things Dawson will never get to enjoy kept creeping into my head last week.

At the same time, I am also thrilled to see these pictures and so proud of these kids accomplishing their hard earned goals and the excitement for all that is ahead for them. I have been in the same place with my three older children and understand how fun and exciting this time in life can be.

But the sting of knowing that Dawson will never experience any of same excitement that other eighteen-year-olds will enjoy is there every day. As I watched him at his "special prom" this weekend, there was a fleeting moment as I stood on the balcony watching him, knowing how stressed and uncomfortable he was, that my heart broke for him.

I had that same feeling on the morning of his 18th birthday earlier in the same week. It was just like any other day for him for all we knew, and another year that he would not blow candles out, or have any interest in unwrapping a gift. Another year of milestones he will never reach and experiences he will never enjoy like other eighteen-year-olds will.

These feelings are confusing and I have been dealing with them for most of Dawson's life so I have gotten really good at keeping them at bay. Another thing I have gotten good at is searching for the really cool stuff about his life the minute I start to feel sad for him. So here I go!

First, he had the most beautiful girl in the world ask him to prom. She chose to spend her Friday night with a boy that was clearly in a bad mood and only wanted her to scratch his head all night. She did it ALL with a smile on her face and love in her heart. I was able to watch pure, selfless love in all its glory from that balcony with his dad and his sister, Brenna, by my side. Pretty freaking sweet if you ask me.

Second, I got to see folks volunteering for Tim Tebow's Night To Shine Prom, stand out in the cold, cheering and clapping as the special guests walked in. I saw so much joy on so many peoples faces, as fists pumped in the air to the music like it was the greatest night of their lives. Maybe it was the greatest night of their lives and people volunteered their time from their own busy lives to make it all happen for them. They did it all for people they don't even know, or may never see again.

I told myself that even though Dawson maybe had a hard time that night, so many others had the best night ever. He had a beautiful girl by his side and at least he tried his very best. He gave his parents and sisters the pleasure of at least going through the motions and now we have pictures to last a lifetime.

I also recognized how blessed we are that Dawson is able to walk and was healthy enough to even attend. Brenna and I had tears in our eyes that night and those tears came from the beauty we saw happening below us. Most parents would be forbidden to even go to their child's prom and I seriously doubt they would see anything close to what we did. It was magical in too many ways to count and it is that magic, at least for a moment, that takes all the sadness away and I am so grateful for that gift.

Sarah Swindell's memoir, Rounding Home, is now available here!

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