I was late because I had a dentist appointment.
“Oh thank goodness you’re here!” She said as she let out a giant sigh.
“Why, what happened?” I asked.
“Oh he had a huge meltdown because you weren’t here this morning! He threw his things on the ground and it was just terrible! He will be so happy to see your face when he comes back from cooling off.”
Every Tuesday and Thursday morning I internship at ArtMix, an organization that uses art to teach our friends with special needs life skills that they can use to get a job after highschool. Over the last 7 months I have been working with the same group of 9 highschool students. This has become such a rewarding experience for me but yesterday just proved even more how lucky I am to have this opportunity.
You see one friend of mine in particular has formed a very special friendship with me. While for the most part he is pretty non verbal. He does talk but it is very hard to have a conversation. I do truly believe he understands what is being said to him he just doesn’t always get his words out to respond back to you. But that hasn’t let my friend stop enjoying his job. Every single day he walks into the studio with the biggest smile, and let me tell you his smile is one you cannot forget!
Usually I am helping teach my friends. Even though most of them are the same age as I am, some even older. However my friends in return have taught me many lessons, and yesterday this friend in particular taught me a very special one.
You see I’ve been having a rough time lately, I’ve been feeling a bit down and out of place but I walked into the studio yesterday to find that my usually happy friends day had been entirely flipped upside down because I didn’t show up on time. He was so worried that he wasn’t going to see me that it put him in a terrible mood and caused him so much stress he couldn’t even handle it. Yesterday my friend made me feel important, through his actions he showed to others that I was important to him.
My friend who very rarely vocalizes his thoughts in the form of words, expressed how much he cared for me. I usually have very little clue as to what is going through his mind. Some days I wonder if he is even happy to be where he is because he always does his job with little vocalization. But yesterday my friend showed me that I had become a VERY important part of his day!
The best part was what followed though, when my friend had cooled off he walked in to the studio and I turned around to greet him, and there was the smile followed by a big “Merideth!” You see for a while my friend couldn’t quite get the Merideth down, this has been a recent discovery. For about 5 months I was “Meridan” and I didn’t bother correcting it because it was my friends way of referring to me, but on his own over time he learned to correctly pronounce it. So seeing that big smile and my name be shouted across the room, well that was enough to make my year.
I later explained to my friend that I was late because I had to go to the dentist and that it was all okay. He looked at me and laughed and said “the dentist?” I took that as him realizing how silly it was to get so worried! I told my friend that I was so sorry I didn’t tell him last week that I would be late so he could be prepared, I assured him I would do my best to let him know ahead of time when I was going to be gone so he wouldn’t have to worry. He then looked at me and said “Can I please have a hug?” I was so happy to share this moment because my friend was able to talk through the situation with me and understand that it was all just a little mix up and everything would be okay! I was so happy to share a hug with my friend after we made sure we were both okay.
For the first time in months I felt important, and needed. Someone that really only slightly knows me was able to show compassion to me in a way I had no idea he could show. My friend was there for me on a day I needed him, and I was there on a day he needed me. Although my friend and I don’t have normal everyday conversations we enjoy each other’s company. Although we don’t discuss current events, or anything really we have still formed a connection between each other and that is truly beautiful. I believe my friend understands everything I say to him, he may not be able to show it all the time but he is incredibly smart.
My friend showed me I was important on a day I was feeling not so important, and that meant the world to me.