“Mom, why are all those people out here?” We had just pulled up to the high school where Night to Shine was being held.
I looked where Hannah was pointing. There were a lot of people by the door that she would have to go through.
“It’s gonna be okay, hun. Maybe they’re volunteers. Do you want me to walk in with you?”
“Yes, I don’t want to walk by all those people by myself.”
“Okay. I will.”
I thought back to when Hannah first told me about this special event.
“Mom, guess what? I just found out that there’s gonna be a prom for special needs kids! I’m so excited! Can I go?” She smiled and giggled in anticipation.
“Well, that sounds like fun and it’s a possibility, but I’m gonna need more information before I can decide.”
“It’s called Night to Shine. A bunch of churches are putting it on. They would give me a dress and do my hair and makeup and everything!”
“Wow! That sounds amazing.”
“Come on, mom.” Hannah’s voice pulled me back to the present. We got out of the car and began walking to the door.
The people separated into two lines, one on either side of the sidewalk. Hannah’s eyes opened wide, her eyebrows raised, and her jaw was clenched as she realized we would have to walk through the middle.
But then something extraordinary happened. Just as we were getting close to them, the people all began to applaud and cheer for Hannah. Her jaw dropped open and her eyes grew even bigger. That look of shock was quickly replaced by the biggest and brightest smile I’ve ever seen. Her head raised and shoulders straightened. She couldn’t help but giggle.
Dear God, is this real? I swallowed hard as my eyes welled up and tears threatened to overflow.
People are celebrating Hannah! I felt a stirring deep in my soul as a couple tears escaped. Hannah looked at me. I choked back the tears and gave her a reassuring smile and wink.
We walked in the door and were warmly greeted by volunteers who put Hannah at ease immediately.
Wow! I am genuinely impressed. I looked around and saw not only teenagers with disabilities, but older adults as well.
“I thought this was for teenagers,” I said to a volunteer.
“Oh no. It’s for anyone fifteen years old and up.”
“That is so cool!”
Hannah’s giggle grabbed my attention. I turned and looked just in time to see a couple of ladies “ooing” and “awwwing” over her long red hair.
“I wish I could be the one to do your hair!”
“Me too! Your hair is absolutely gorgeous!”
“Thank you.” Hannah giggled again.
“Now, Hannah, we can assign an escort for you if you’d like. It would be someone who would guide you through the evening and help with anything you might need. Would you like that?”
“No, I think I’m okay on my own.”
“Okay. That’s fine, but if you change your mind, you just let us know and we’ll get someone for you. Okay?”
“I’ll take you to the room where you’ll get your hair done, but I still wish I could be the one to do it!”
Hannah turned to me and gave me an enthusiastic hug.
“Bye, Mom.” There wasn’t a trace of anxiety left.
“Bye, sweet girl. Have a wonderful time! I love you!”
“I love you too,” she said giggling yet again and turned to follow the lady who had been so wonderful with her. I just stood there for a couple minutes and watched them walk through a large, beautifully decorated room.
Wow! She’s practically floating three feet off the floor. This is just so amazing! I choked back tears as I again felt a stirring deep inside.
I walked out the door in time to see a couple more participants, with smiles as bright as Hannah’s, walking between the lines of cheering people.
As soon as I got back in the car, Dan asked, “Is she doing okay?”
“Yes, she’s doing great,” I said with a shaky voice. “I’m the one that’s a mess.” I barely got the words out before bursting into tears.
“Nothing. Everything. Is. Perfect,” I said between sobs.
He gave me an “Oh, I get it” look.
Once I calmed down a little, I said, “It’s just that she’s never been celebrated like that before. They were amazing with her and made her feel so special. I was so moved by it. No, it’s more than that. It’s like all the times in the past when she has felt like she stood out like a sore thumb, or was misunderstood or rejected; I’ve felt her pain. Do you know what I mean?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Well, tonight it was like the wounds in her heart were being healed and I could feel that as well.”
Silence. I looked over at Dan. Now he was teary eyed. He felt it too.
God is good!