Grateful.

I’m not quite sure where to begin, probably because my emotions have the better of me right now and probably because so much has happened in the last two years.

We were so scared to send Liam to school with people that didn’t know him, for 5 days a week, 2.5 hours every one of those days. It seemed like a huge amount of time that he would be out of my care, with strangers. I arrived at the school parking lot 30 minutes early, apple in hand, waiting to pick up my buddy that first day of school.

Then there was a second, and a third and a fourth day. And before we knew it, Liam had made himself at home with three women and a classroom of friends. It’s hard to remember that little boy. He was l i t t l e and non-verbal. He had sensory needs that we were still figuring out. Eye contact was still not a strength of his, and he was still deciding if he wanted Molly to stay with us or not, so friends weren’t a priority.

But of course, he blossomed. Bravery will do that to a person.

He first started growing into his little body. Sensory needs came into check, then eye contact, parallel play, and even a very best friend. He had FUN at school, and he thrived in his new routine. He had bad days, days that all he wanted to do was talk to the fish in the hallway. But he carried on, as he is want to do.

Then came a communication device and then….W O R D S.

And a year and a half later came a new classroom and a new teacher with a beautiful spirit. A new best friend was quick to emerge, along with weather goggles and holding the flag for the pledge of allegiance with great pride.  And now, this brave little man of ours is fully integrated and will make classroom #6 his new home.

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Ms. Kristine, your sweet spirit and mothering instincts have always comforted us, knowing that you care for Liam as you would one of your own. I’ll never forget the image I have in my mind of the first time I saw Liam dance. You were right beside him, helping him with timing and having a GREAT time with him. My heart was so thankful. Thank you for your patience and guidance as you walked Liam through the early days of the transition, which we know wasn’t always easy. You are a good, kind woman and your smile will be dearly missed.

Ms. Saundra, we laugh about you and Liam a lot at home. We will always be grateful that you saw Liam and fell in love with him. He felt safe at school, and I know you played a large part in that. Thank you for the extra hugs and loves, he needed those and that helped him grow. Thank you for the dirty work you did and for encouraging Liam to do his best. Our hearts will have a Ms. Saundra shaped hole in them. 

Miss Sarah. You are an angel straight from heaven. Your heart of gold, your spirit of hope, and your actions of wisdom, grace, and faithfulness have made all.the.difference. You see each and every child that comes into your care and you have a vision for them and see that through as long as they are in your care. This is not.normal. I am confident that in 30 years we will look back and still talk about Liam’s very first teacher and the difference she made. THANK YOU for your bravery and persistence to care and make a difference. Thank you for loving Liam and equipping him to be his very best self. We will miss you and we pray God’s richest blessings in your life.

Classroom #13, you kids are our hero’s. We’ve seen your eyes, and we’ve seen your hearts. We’ve shared struggle and success. You’ve blessed our hearts and filled us up on the really hard days. You are our community of people. We see you and love you and believe the very best for each and every one of you. We will miss you all terribly. Thank you for being kind with and having fun with Liam. He loves you all too.

And thank you friends and family for your encouragement and kindness, prayers and well-wishes. Thank you for allowing us the space to process our hopes and dreams and fears. This journey is so much sweeter because of the community we share.

Onward and upward, with Liam leading the charge.

XO, Team Oakes