I am unsure how to translate what took place at Bryan’s Bar Mitzvah to the blog. I am not even sure I should blog about it but in the end I do want to capture my feelings while they are still somewhat raw. At the house he got dressed and said “I look handsome”; the boy just loves to get dressed up.
To see Bryan on the Bima on Saturday was like watching a conductor with his orchestra. He clearly wanted to have a Bar Mitzvah, we knew that prior to Saturday, but we didn’t know he wanted to have a Bar Mitzvah. His entire being, his entire body, soul, essence spoke to us. He let us know I am in control of myself, my body, my words and my life. I can make this day great, because it is important to me, and to my family. Even saying these things, it really doesn’t do it justice. I don’t want it to sound like his reading was flawless or his Hebrew was flawless. It wasn’t, but he showed something intangible that so far exceeded expectations, it was mind blowing. He was poised, he was independent, and he was confident. He was a man. He had a grace and joy about him I have never seen before and he was beaming with happiness and pride. He was exuberant! Earl, Jason, and I did not cry. The three of us kept saying to each other “look at him” and just stared with our mouths open. He sat in the chair and was looking out at everyone like he was the king, and for that one hour, he was. He moved through the service with ease and independence. He gave a few thumbs up to us and it was natural and engaging. Most people were crying. It was sort of odd to be sitting there and hearing sniffles but I think most people were shocked, and in a good way, at how he was. I know from speaking to family and friends afterward that there was a level of uncertainty going into the day and I think that’s fair and justified. What they got, and what we got, no one could predict. He played us like a fiddle and we all danced to his tune. My heart will never be the same.
At the end of the service he said, “now we can go to the party”. He is a product of Earl and me, ever the party boy. We both love to work the room! When we got to the party, he was relaxed and happy. Everyone was telling him how well he had done and he seemed very pleased with himself. We had a superhero theme and he looked around and took it in stride. He had heard us prepping for months! Interestingly enough, I did not interact much with him at the party. We did the Hora and chair lifting. We ate lunch, and I can tell you I have no idea what my boys ate or if they ate. They were independent. Earl and I have a natural chemistry at all gatherings, which we’ve had from the beginning. We both are incredibly social and can mill about without worrying what the other one is doing. We enjoyed visiting with our guests but also meeting back at our small table filled with old friends, minus a few who got stuck in NY due to the snowstorm. We had some old school laughs and tears and watched it unfold. Our extended family is loving and enthusiastic and there was just enough party for it to be fun without it getting too overwhelming for Bryan or his friends. Earl and I took turns inviting family and friends up to light candles. Bryan posed for lots of photos and didn’t even mind being jostled around by the photographer. He just loved the limelight. Toward the end we played an extensive photo montage set to music; we knew Bryan wouldn’t last too long and predicted an end around 3pm. Around 2:45 a tired, slightly sweaty Bryan came over and said “i can go home” but his body language said “my work here is done.” The party came to an end not long afterward but the high continues. I truly do not think my feet will ever touch the ground again.
One of our dear friends came back to the house with us after the party. He lives in NY and both Earl and I have known him since childhood but didn’t know each other. He stayed over and we had some other friends over for pizza and drinks just to keep things going. It was relaxing and Bryan got to spend some time with some of his friends too that were visiting from Georgia. Our friend asked me if seeing Bryan at the Bar Mitzvah changed how I felt about Bryan for the future; could he achieve more than we anticipated given his ability to rise to the occasion. I really had to ponder that one. I don’t really think anything has changed for me or us, but don’t want to speak for Earl. I think I’ve always looked at him and hoped for the best but as his parent, planned for the “worst”. One thing I think I did learn was that I need to up my game a bit, not let him get away with bad behavior at times when I think it’s because of autism and not because of Bryan. There’s always a lesson if you’re paying attention.