Back at the end of October (2011), I got a message on Facebook. It was from Mike. I had never met Mike. I had written some posts about being one-handed on my blog and Mike found them, which was great because his son, Grant, had just been born with a left arm exactly like mine. “Do you perform baptisms?” he asked. I had just done my nephew’s, so I was in the baptizing mood. I told him yes and after some back-and-forth, we nailed down a time and place and he sent out the Evites.
Well…today was the day.
I arrived early to church to turn on the heat and get things situated, but I wasn’t early enough. No sooner had I opened the door and thrown down some ice-melt than family started showing-up. I didn’t even have my tie on yet. I was getting a little nervous and trying to make sure everything was prepared just right. But then, I started to meet the family. I can’t remember her name, but one of the aunts came up to me and gave me a great big hug and thanked me for “doing this.” It was the greatest. Then I met Mike’s sister and the sponsors and the great-grandparents…it felt like a family reunion!
Eventually we all filed into the sanctuary and got the party started. As I stood there in front of this group of amazing people, I couldn’t help but feel excited. Maybe that’s a strange thing to feel at a baptism, but to me it was bigger than just the baptism. It was about Grant. And his parents, Mike and Tara. And his big sister, Baylee. It was about the fact, the fact, that he and they are surrounded by people who love them. People who will be there and are learning together with them about what it means to raise a child with a limb difference. That community is the most important thing, I believe, for Grant. He is going to grow-up knowing that he is loved and that he can be and do whatever he wants. I’m confident of that.
After the ceremony, we all went to lunch together. My son Sam made a new friend in Mike’s nephew, Luka; Tara tripped over my wife’s purse and fell so hard I thought she was dead; I had a great talk with Mike’s sister Jeanne and her husband. Another fantastic moment was when we opened our gift from Mike and Tara and it was a gift card to one of our favorite restaurants. Actually, the fantastic moment came after that when we said, “You guys, we love this place! How did you know?” “Tara stalked you on Facebook,” Mike answered. Tara, you are the best. Then, just before the food came, Mike addressed the group. He thanked everyone for being there and for traveling so far (especially himself – they came all the way from Connecticut!) and then he said some incredibly kind things about me. Mike and his family helped me realize the kind of impact I can have in peoples’ lives. And similarly, the impact they have on mine.
Everyone started to filter out after a while, so we rounded-up our kids and said our goodbyes, too. It was sad to realize that we don’t know when we’ll see everyone again, but we’re so thankful for the time we had together. We’ll never forget it.
And there’s always the internet for staying connected. Like Tara’s dad said, “I guess there are some good things on there after all.”
Thank you, Schneiders, for inviting us into your lives and for helping us to end 2011 on a high note!
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