Brooke with her friends, Dora, Diego and Mr Shawn
Dear Nick Hotel staff,
Sometimes words aren’t big enough. This is one of those times.
You welcomed me and my girl with open arms.
You reveled in her excitement (and mine for her).
You treated her like royalty.
You understood just how much it meant to her.
You could see that her love of all things Dora and Blue was far from typical.
You knew that you had an extraordinary fan.
And you respected that.
“No,” said the photographer, “I didn’t know that Dora’s sister and brother were named Isabella and Guillermo. Thank you so much for telling me that so that now I can ask her about them!”
She got it.
You all got it.
And when you didn’t, you asked questions.
When I explained to a hostess at breakfast that my girl is autistic, she said, “I have heard that word a lot – autism, but I really don’t know what it means. Do you mind if I ask?”
We talked about it. How differently it affects individuals, yet some cues to look for. She said again, “I hope you don’t mind me asking.” I told her that I was so grateful that she did.
You made the magic real. You made the characters with whom she spends so much time, friends.
You gave her the ultimate gift – time. Never a hurry. Never a rush. Pat-a-cake and Ring Around the Rosy and Simon Says. Again and Again. (And again.)
There are no words big enough. So THANK YOU will have to suffice.
Special thanks to Stephen Smith. I don’t know how you knew, but thank you. To GMs Mohamed Kahramane and Karla Hettinger, you’re doing something right. Please, keep doing it. To Jamal, Sam and especially Shawn the Storyteller and the wonderful people who made Dora, Diego and all of the characters real for my girl, you can’t imagine how much of an impact you made. Then again, I’m pretty sure I saw Shawn welling up while Brooke was dancing with her new friends, so maybe you can.
To our friends at Jet Blue — well, you guys warrant a post of your own. It will come soon; I promise. Because the autism community needs to know who our people are. And you, my friends, are our people.
And of course, to my dad, who made this trip possible. You gave us memories that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives. I know you know.
Thank you all.