I am at Starbucks nursing a decaf and borrowing their wifi. I am not alone. Even on a Friday night on the biggest and busiest shopping day in the United States, the day after Thanksgiving, there are a few others here as well.
I didn’t come to work. I came to wait.
I just drove my son, Jon, to his 15th high school reunion and dropped him off alone at a bar. He has been looking forward to this night, maybe for the five years since his 10th reunion. He remembers high school with happiness- being included in all academic classes, playing on the golf team, managing the basketball and lacrosse teams, coaching powderpuff, going to proms and being in the senior show.
Graduating with his class, being awarded class scholarships and with college acceptances in hand- these were not small feats in the 1990’s.
But it’s tonight’s reunion that is on my mind. Will anyone be there that Jon knows? Will he even find the room where the reunion is being held? Will he demonstrate good decision making- I saw the list of beers he was thinking of tasting and with $50 and a credit card, it was all up to him.
On the car ride to the bar, we discussed how there might not be too many of his classmates there- they are in their mid-30’s now and many are married with children, with careers and mortgages. They may not be as nostalgic as Jon is about high school. From my snooping on Jon’s Facebook page I could see that there were not many who RSVP’d. I prepared him but, Jon’s optimism was evident, “You never know”.
As he headed out of the car, I asked if he wanted me to bring him into the bar to find the group and he looked back with a glance and said “I will text you.”
How long must I wait to have the assurance that he was safe and with friends? As it turned out, not very long at all because as soon as I sat down, decaf in hand, the text arrived. It simply said, “Adam Farber”.
With my eyes moist, I was transported back eighteen years. Jon was a sophomore in high school, attending the local school for the very first time and Adam was in our small car pool. It was the year that Adam wore a kippah to school. Even in our suburban high school with a large Jewish population, Adam stood out. He was the only kid with a kippah. As I watched Adam walk into school one morning, I realized just how special he was- he walked into the high school wearing a kippah and walking side by side, with his classmate, with Down syndrome. I saw him as a teen with courage and conviction and I wanted to hug him. I settled for telling his family how moved I was. I was also deeply appreciative.
Somehow, I am not surprised that it was Adam who first found Jon tonight.
Jo Ann Simons is a Disability Advisor to the Ruderman Family Foundation and President and CEO of the Cardinal Cushing Centers