Friendship is a funny thing. It can appear when you least expect it. It can disappear when you need it most. It can pop up in unusual places. It can last a lifetime. And it is one of life's most precious gifts.
I am blessed. I still have my very first best friends from about the ages of three and five. They are the kind of friends you can go weeks and weeks without talking to, or seeing, but the moment you do...it is like a day never passed. I have two friends like that. The kind I can always count on. The kind who will drop everything if you are in trouble. The kind who will love you, look out for you and be there for you always, because that is just how it has always been.
I am also blessed to have new friends. Friends who popped up when I wasn't looking for friendships, just trying to get my daughter to and from school or pass the time at dance class. Friends who I was initially drawn to because of our mutual interests or our children's mutual interests, but who have turned out to be people I can lean on, depend on and have so much fun with. Friends who have turned out to be some of the best. Adult friendships are different than friendships that develop during our childhood or our college days, and sometimes they are a little more work because of all the craziness we have in our daily lives, but they truly can be the best. Friendship is a funny thing.
My son Brady is four and a half years old and has never been invited to a play date, to a Chuck E. Cheese "friend" birthday party and ever been called someone's best buddy. He is nonverbal and has pretty severe sensory processing disorder and cognitive impairments. These special needs can get in the way of frienships. It breaks my heart knowing he does not know the pure joy of playing with a group of friends. It breaks my heart knowing there is no one begging their parents to call Brady Youngblood and have him come over to play. It breaks my heart that he may never truly feel the power and strength of friendship. I worry so much he will never have a best friend. But then I look around my beautiful life and I see that Brady already has a true and everlasting best friend....his big sister.
Brady's special needs make friendship a bit tricky. Most friendships are built on mutual interests, similar circles of friends and really good conversation. My little boy can't share in any of those things...at least not yet. Brady's habits are a bit odd. Brady's "circle" includes teachers, therapists, doctors and his family. Brady has no words, no voice, so conversation is really challenging. With his sister Molly, Brady doesn't need words. She just knows what he is trying to tell her. With his sister, Brady doesn't have to his mom or dad explain why he chews on a garden hose or watches the same dvd 25 times a day. His sister just gets it and doesn't see his quirks. With Molly, Brady is free to be himself and he knows he will be loved unconditionally. Molly makes him smile. Molly picks him up when he takes a tumble. Molly reads to him and watches his favorite dvd with him. Molly is his sister, but she is also his friend.
I have a best friend, who also happens to be my sister. I know she will never leave me or grow apart from me. I know she will always support me, even if she disagrees with me. I know she will bite her tongue when its necessary and share her opinions wholeheartedly when I need to hear them. She accepts my quirks, embraces my faults and supports me like no other. Even as I became a wife, a mother and a friend to so many others, my sister has always been the best and truest of friends. My sister is my first friend. It fills my heart knowing my own daughter will always be my son's first friend.
I am optimistic that others will come into Brady's life and open up their hearts to him. I know there will come a day when his calendar is full of play dates and birthday parties. I am hopeful there will come a day when he is picked for a team during recess and is someone's best buddy. Special needs impact so much of my son's world. There is so much he has not been able to experience, but there is so much he has to give. His smile is the most welcoming I have ever seen and someday, it will be shared with so many others. But until that day comes, I am content knowing my son has a friend who will always love him, who will always look out for him, who will always make him smile and giggle and who will always be the very best kind of friend.