This weekend was a milestone for our family. Our 24 year old daughter was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding. This was her first time as a bridesmaid. The first time that she ever had such an important role in a wedding. The first time to ever wear a beautiful bridesmaid dress and carry a bouquet of flowers. At 24 years of age, this wouldn’t typically be such a milestone for a family. But for us…it was beyond huge!
Megan is a person with autism. She is considered “high functioning” by some standards and “low functioning” by others. Megan is verbal and somewhat independent but she will never live on her own. She will always need one-on-one supervision and has some behaviors that can be quite challenging. Being a bridesmaid has never been on our radar. We have mourned the fact that she’ll never be the Bride. I’ll never be the Mother of the Bride. Her Dad will never get to walk his little girl down the aisle to meet the love of her life. We have grieved this loss and have accepted that this is not meant to be. But, a bridesmaid? Who would have thought!
The Bride. Courtney is her name. She worked for us several years ago as Megan’s after-school caregiver. She would get her off of the bus and then spend time with her until we got home from work. She did this for only 1 ½ years before going off to college but it was long enough for her to become a forever part of our family. Blood lines alone don’t make a family and Courtney is living proof of that.
Courtney sent a Facebook message to me for Megan back in February that looked like this…….
“Oh my goodness!!!” was my response. The next thing out of my mouth was “Have you talked to your Mother about this??”.
As I mentioned earlier, Megan has some challenging behaviors. Basically, she can be a stinker at times (the other times, she’s a funny, smart, sensitive, loving, beautiful young lady). She knows the buttons to push and will push as often as possible in order to get a reaction. She will especially push those buttons when she knows you are in a position of not being able to do a thing about it. (sounds like some typical children, too right? :-)) My instant fear was “what if she messes up the wedding??” Courtney had no worries. Whatever happens will be just fine. She wanted her in her wedding and that was that.
Fast forward to the wedding weekend. I have never taken Megan for a mani/pedi. I know. In this day and age of indulgence, girls are heading to the nail salon by the age of 5! I confess, I wasn’t abstaining from fear of overindulgence. I didn’t do it because I never thought in a million years she would put her feet in a tub of warm soapy water and let people touch her in any way shape or form. Well, shut my mouth because she was amazing!!!
Friday night was the wedding rehearsal and Megan did pretty well. Keep in mind that there were no chairs set up and no people sitting in those chairs so we knew that even though she did well at rehearsal, the next night would more than likely prove to be different. Stress? Definitely! From the Bride regarding Meg? Never! From Mom? Oh my, yes!!!
Our concern became reality the next evening. Megan rounded the corner to walk down the aisle and hit those brakes with a vengeance. The plan was that we were going to sit up front in case she ended up trying to sit down. Dad was going to hang in the back with her at first just in case she would not walk down the aisle alone. She did end up making her way to the front but not via the center aisle. Thankfully it was before the Bride arrived! I can only imagine what the guests who were there who didn’t know Megan or were not aware that she had autism thought!! We were able to get her settled in her spot with the other bridesmaids and she managed to stand there the e.n.t.i.r.e. time! Not without trying to test Mom by shaking her bouquet a few times and looking at me with her sneaky grin. Thankful to a gal named Jade who was the bridesmaid standing next to Megan. She patiently endured Megan putting her arm around her or having Jade wrap her arm around Megan. Whatever worked, Jade was up for it and did so with grace and ease! She was a doll!
Time for the recessional and when it was Megan’s turn, she wasn’t having any of it. Arm covering her face, she stood for a minute while Stewart patiently waited. We had already told him that if she didn’t come, just go on ahead and we’ll figure it out. We sorta kinda loudly whispered “Megan, go to Stewart.” And with a spring in her step and a giggle in her voice, she skipped over to him. What happened next was amazing….the crowd started clapping and cheering Megan on. Have you ever??!! (how I wish I had my camera on video when this happened because it was fabulous!!)
This weekend we saw time and again the kindness of people. The bride’s family who have loved on Megan for years. They have welcomed her into their home and family and each and every one of them were so supportive and loving throughout this weekend. We are beyond blessed to know them!
To the groom’s family who, well, probably wondered what Courtney might have been thinking when she came up with this idea. Their entire family…..who did not know Megan coming into this weekend were cheerleaders for her as well. They encouraged her, told her “good job!” many times and were just happy and loving!
Stewart, the Groomsman who was chosen to walk with Megan. He was kind and patient! Matt and Courtney made a perfect choice in having him be her partner!
The Bridesmaids….I can’t say enough about them! Each and every one of them were understanding, kind, encouraging, patient and loving. Each and every one! They shared celebrative smiles with us when she did well and understanding smiles when she struggled. I wish I could express in words how their attitudes about the whole thing just really touched us! We are so appreciative!
And Matt and Courtney…..amazing! Matt has known Megan for a short while. Megan stayed with Courtney back in November and during that weekend, she had to work one day. So Matt kept Megan for the day. Do you know how many boyfriends would ~not~ have done that?? Matt did so and did so with cheer! And he was wonderful! If we hadn’t already liked him after the first meeting, that sealed the deal for us! And now to have accepted Megan as a part of their very special day….we’re so grateful, Matt! So, so grateful!
And our precious Courtney who is like a daughter to us. Words will never begin to express how you have touched our souls with this gesture. You have always meant so much to us and knowing you as we do, this really didn’t come as a surprise because it’s your nature and who you are. You have a kind, sweet soul and we’re blessed to have you in our lives. Your calmness about Megan’s involvement going into one of the biggest days of your life was amazing and something we will never forget.
We only wish that Megan understood the full impact of what you did for her this weekend. And even if she doesn’t, her parents certainly do and we are beyond blessed because of it and because of you!