A Friendship Story – Part 2

I think it’s hard for people to understand the heartbreak that parents of children with special needs live with every day. This post is part two of A FRIENDSHIP STORY that illustrates how on good friend saved the day on Super Bowl Sunday.


WHEN WE LEFT OFF LAST WEEK Matthew was trying to find a Super Bowl Party. He told me he would call his “friends”.

The friends that Matthew was referring to are the neurotypical ones he knew in middle school that were kind to him and worked as aides in his special education class. Most are 23 like Matthew and have graduated from college and are in the work world. They have moved on.

So while Matthew was at his dance Friday night, I sent a SOS to a small circle of friends who have generously saved the day in situations like these in the past. Two of them had other plans, and the third was at a retreat until Sunday afternoon. She’d call if she got back in time for the Super Bowl.

After breakfast on Saturday morning, I paced by Matthew’s bedroom door and listened as he phoned his “friends”.

“Hi, it’s me, Matthew. Is Joe there?”

Long pause.

“When did he move?”

Long pause.

“I really wanted to watch the Super Bowl with him.”

Long pause.

“OK Bye.”


Matthew made phone calls like this on and off through the day with no bites. He helped a few neighbors with yard work and played several games of Wii Bowling with his brother John in between.

By 4pm, I was counting the hours before bedtime when Matthew asked if we could go to the store.

“I want to get some chips for the Super Bowl Party tomorrow. We should make some cookies, too.”

By Sunday morning, Matthew was desperate, and so was I. Even writing about the weekend wears me out.

“I seriously need to go to a Super Bowl Party!” Matthew wailed, “and everyone is just so busy!”

I made the mistake of telling him that my friend Kate and her family might have a party if she got home from a retreat in time. Matthew jumped on the phone and called her number. The line was busy for hours, but Matthew kept calling – slamming the phone down every time he heard the busy signal. I interpreted the busy signal as a hint. Perhaps Kate and her family had taken the phone off the hook on purpose having decided that they didn’t have the energy for an afternoon with Matthew.

I offered to take Matthew out to lunch, and he said no thanks, he would have plenty to eat at the party. He went into his room to listen to music until 3pm, and then asked me for a nice plate to put the cookies on.

“I’ve decided we should just go to Kate’s house” he said.

“That’s fine,” I replied, “but when we get there, they may not be there. Or they might be there and tell us to go home.”

“It will be fine,” Matthew said.

Matthew was serene as we drove to Kate’s house, the plate of cookies an bag of chips on his lap. I, on the other hand, was a mess. Imposing on people is more painful to me than having a root canal.

“Please, God,” I prayed en route,  “Let them be home and let them invite us in.”

When we pulled up to Kate’s house, Matthew bounced up the stairs and knocked on the door with a big grin. Kate opened the door with her robe on and smiled back.

“Matthew!” she said, “I was hoping it was you! I just got back from my retreat!”

I just about collapsed on the spot.

Matthew walked in and put the cookies on the coffee table just as Carrie Underwood started singing the star spangled banner. Kate’s family took their place on the sofa next to him.

“I’ll need a bowl for the chips,” he said, “Mom, you’d better get going.”

Kate winked at me, I slapped my hand over my heart with gratitude, and went home.


I dropped Matthew off the next morning at Camphill, before I could get away, Matthew chased down my car, waving his arms.

“I have another important question that I need to ask,” he said, “Did Roy Orbison ever meet Valerie Bertinelli?”

“I have NO idea,” I sighed, “but I’ll find out and we can talk about it next month.”


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