The entertainment again this year was our demanding that he read each card to the crowd. He HATES doing it, but his commentary on the cards and the experience itself are hilarious. It does him good. Earlier in life, being the center of attention once rendered him all but inert. Now he takes it in stride and "performs" for his audience. Just another "daily miracle" in our world
The collection of people in our home are a treasure we could never hope to earn. The stories of their kindness toward Nathan and the rest of his family are too numerous to tell. They strengthen us all in our journey. Though they'd never accept credit, they "lighten the load".
Realizing that Nay is now seventeen has been very sobering for me. It's brought with it a litany of hopes that haven't yet been fulfilled. Contrary to my claims that "hope and I aren't on speaking terms", hopes are a hard thing to shake.
In spite of Nathan's miraculous growth and social development, I find myself hoping for more. Each passing year brings the differences between his social abilities and his peers' abilities into more stark relief. Hope is a cruel delusion.
Each birthday reminds me that while many are invited to his celebration, he receives precious few invitations in return. Celebration pictures in social media remove any doubt that little has changed or will on that front. I see the faces of the constant parade of girls over the years who have told us how much they "love Nathan". I hold no hope that any of them are fantasizing about him as their prom date. I can't allow myself to think on these things often. Doing so feeds a bitterness that I don't think I'm strong enough to defeat. My only hope is starving it.
I have to confess. These are my hopes and dreams, not his. Nathan is a happy kid. He always has been. I'm more thankful for this than I can express. Nathan always has and continues to be my "running buddy". No matter where I'm going, Nathan is always game to tag along.
Nathan's dream is to go to college. He wants to go to Tech. We're working hard to prepare him. It's been the goal since day one. We tell each new set of teachers "we haven't ruled out college for Nathan. We believe he can do it." It's Nathan's dream that makes seventeen so sobering.
There is much left to be done. Seventeen tells me that the sunlight of his childhood is waning. We need more time. He's come so far, but hope has again betrayed me. Where hope fails me, Nathan never does. He has consistently burst through every limitation I thought he had. He continues to amaze.
My fears and disappointments are mine. He seldom seems bothered by any of it. He is stalwart and strong. I have no doubt he'll find his own path and accomplish what he chooses. He always has.