how about love?

As a parent, watching your child perform in a chorus, well, it’s kind of like this ..

 mariah

{image is a photo of Mariah Carey singing with a choir behind her}

Ya know, there’s your kid. And then there are all these other kids who are clearly just there to sing back-up for her.

Don’t get me wrong, the other kids are adorable and fabulous and I know full well that to their families they’re Mariah and my kid is that smiling lady squeezed somewhere between the trumpet and the flute, as it should be, but I know what I see. Well, except the dress. What is that, Mimi? A car wash for your legs? Anyway, moving on.

My girl sang her little heart out the other night. She radiated joy and as she sang the music just exploded out of her in a glorious, kinetic burst of God, life, energy and brilliant, beautiful light and unrestrained, unadulterated, authentic LOVE.

The song kills me every time, but I didn’t stand a chance with my girl painting it’s words across the room.

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

How about love?

Measure in love

Seasons of love(love)

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand journeys to plan
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned or the way that she died

It’s time now, to sing out
Though the story never ends
Let’s celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends

Remember the love
(Oh, you got to, you got to remember the love)
Remember the love
(You know that love is a gift from up above)
Remember the love
(Share love, give love, spread love)
Measure in love
(Measure, measure your life in love)

Seasons of love

(Measure your life, measure your life in love)

It’s the kind of song that shatters you and then dares to touch you in all the places that you’ve been broken and the tenderness is just too much to bear and the hope rising from the rubble hurts as much as it heals and as it swirled through the room on the wings of those sweet young voices I just wanted so desperately to hold it close and make it my own. But it was never meant to be owned. It was meant to fly.

As the chorus sang its final refrain and the musical director looked to the accompanist for the signal of the last note, my girl told the auditorium that she wasn’t done.

With a flourish I can only describe as vaudevillian (think jazz hands and “Yeah” at the final note), my girl shouted, “How about LOOOOVE?”

And for one moment, I worried. For just a split second, my reaction was a combustible mix of elation and fear. Elation that my girl was so happy, so true, so deliciously herself, and fear that it wouldn’t be okay.

And then the audience cheered and her eyes widened and her grin wrapped around her head and then ….

The young man behind her on the risers leaned down to her with his hand raised. “Hey, Brooke,” he said, “that was awesome. High five?” And she high-fived him before either my heart or my camera could catch up and he smiled at her and she smiled at us and the crowd cheered and I thought, THIS. This is what we fight for. This is what the world can look like for my girl, for all of these kids who have something so incredible inside of them bubbling just below the surface, waiting to be seen. All of these kids and adults who are searching for safe places, just tiny squares of space to be free to be themselves, to do things like sing with their entire beings and to shout with joy when the song is over and to be met with nothing but love when they do.

Little by little, we make these spaces and fill them with love and acceptance and celebration until it spills out into the street and then we kick out the walls and connect the spaces one by one until the entire world IS that space.

Of thirteen soloists that night, four were kids on the autism spectrum. Four.

Of thirteen solos, some rocked it, some were barely audible, some were barely in tune. And every one of them was perfect and contributed to making the most beautiful music I’d ever heard.

The night was pure magic and my girl, well, she was exactly who she is.

And I truly can’t imagine anything more beautiful than that.

20140611-061853-22733733.jpg

{image is of Brooke singing Happy}

 

16 thoughts on “how about love?

  1. I continue to say, not in the least unbiased, that Brooke is an amazing child and so beautiful and talented and wonderful in every possible way.

    Love you,
    Mom

  2. Aidan is singing that very same song tomorrow at the talent show at his school. Parents are allowed during the show, but the teachers promised me they will tape it for me. I’ve already been told that there have been quite a few “leaky eyes” from the teachers during rehearsals. I can’t wait to watch/bawl cause you know I’m the Vice President of the leaky eye club.

  3. When K was in 1st and 2nd grade, she was told, yes, actually TOLD, she would never get a “part” or “solo” in the end of year music program because she didn’t show the music teacher “respect” when she left class. You know, because she’s autistic and sometimes being in a loud, overwhelming music class was just too hard. She so desperately wanted a “part” and talks about the fact she never got one incessantly, to this day. Scratch that…she still SOBS about it. She thinks she’s a “bad” person because she couldn’t always handle music, and that’s why she never got a part. That is basically what she was told back then, and it’s something she’s held onto, which is heartbreaking.

    I love that there are schools out there who get it. I hate that our school is not one of them (not that she’s even in district anymore.) It shouldn’t matter how perfect an end of year play is, it should matter the difference you’re making in a child’s life. Being told she wasn’t good enough because of her disability, which is what it boils down to, was just another way K was harmed by a public school system that doesn’t understand that ALL kids have worth. Period.

    • Oh, Jen, this breaks my heart. When people say that we don’t need awareness, this is the kind of stuff that I point to. Because ignorance like this hurts our children so much. I’m so sorry for K and I hope to God that she knows just how wrong that teacher was.

  4. Love it all of it ….. and some moments (such as the one you didn’t have time to catch) I think aren’t meant to be captured on film/digital — because we need to hold on to them in our hearts only. 🙂

  5. She is so beautiful in all ways, as is her mother. I do know what you feel as I have felt that way about my girl for almost 45. years. It never diminishes in its power or feel, rather it only gets stronger. There are so many things and feelings in life that I would have missed if I hadn’t had you and you have two of “you” in your life….Love you,Dad

    ps I love when you share this stuff i just wish I could be there to share it with you.

  6. Reblogged this on Walkin' on the edge and commented:
    THIS – “All of these kids and adults who are searching for safe places, just tiny squares of space to be free to be themselves, to do things like sing with their entire beings and to shout with joy when the song is over and to be met with nothing but love when they do.”

  7. Matt is in mainstream choir, but he didn’t practice the songs enough (actually – not at all) to be in the final concert. We were disappointed, but at least it was the same treatment as a typical student would receive. As an alternative, his teachers set him up to play piano on stage as a prelude to the choir concert (he is gifted in playing piano and keyboard – not learned or practiced, and definitely not inherited!) We, too, had that “mix of elation and fear” as he took the stage, uncertain of whether he would calmly follow through with his performance, not play at all, or if something would trigger a very public meltdown of some degree. But we knew he had to be given the opportunity, and thankfully his teachers are on board with inclusion and accomodation. He did fantastically, stopped playing when his time was up, and even remembered his bow at the end! After the concert, several of his choir-mates high-fived him as well. As FDR said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” and I believe that especially applies in these situations. Matt (and the rest of our family) would have missed out on so many opportunities if we let fear take over. That is one of the reasons I love your posts so much – you help me to see all of the joy that can be found in many situations if we just give it a chance. You give me the courage to take those chances.

  8. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! I can vividly imagine that moment that your girl gave it her all … her LOVE. How incredibly magical that must have been. Bravo Brooke!

  9. this is what I needed to hear today – on a morning where I’ve spent more time emailing my insurance company and trying not to cry at my desk than actually working, feeling overwhelmed and frustrated that we will be able to get our little boy the help he needs. It warms my heart to hear this and how happy Brooke is and how supportive her school and community are. It give me hope that we will eventually figure this out and get there too.

  10. Every holiday, Quentin gets to sing “his songs” over the intercom for the whole school to hear. He may not have the perfect voice, but he is amazing none the less and everyone just knows that Q is going to rock it! Now that we are here at the hospital, he is known for his songs and gets requests to sing while going to the OR. And they all can’t wait and everyone comes out to listen. Isn’t life amazing and wonderful and hopeful???!!!! He is in surgery right now getting “fixed” hopefully for the last time. Send up a little prayer for our Q Man. He is an amazing boy, just like all of the other amazing kids and adults out there. Thanks Jess 🙂

  11. In third grade my little guy got the part of the “town Crier” in the play his class was doing. His job was to come out on stage (with another classmate) and sing Happy Birthday song to America. We all held our breath as he walked out on stage (you just don’t know what to expect) and he smiled when he saw the audience- then waved and yelled out his favorite question- “Is everybody happy?” then after much chuckling in the audience and a brief nudge from his fellow Crier he proceeded to sing Happy Birthday and skip off the stage. IT WAS A MOMENT! We were so proud! He did so well the teacher included him in the soldiers for the war scene where he stopped between the two opposing armies and yelled “No don’t shoot!” and then ran to join the group. What a ham!

    This year (5th grade) we have the human wax museum and who is my boy going as- John Lasseter- the PIXAR king and his idol. Who needs to learn about Abe Lincoln anyway?

    Sit back and enjoy the show when our kids perfom!

    Kim

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