They do have tour boats that go up and down but not one of them from what I could tell could accommodate a wheelchair. But I really enjoyed the walk. There are interesting people to meet along the way - which is kind of how I like life to be. You never know who's meant to cross your path or bring you a message that you need to hear. There was a homeless man, sitting on one of the garden lawn edges who had a wrapped up beer can partially covered by a brown paper bag. Such a sweet and pleasant man. Who was so complimentary and kind to Noah as we were walking. Sometimes those who have the hardest journey in life turn out to be those who can recognize and appreciate other types of struggles. He wanted to make sure we had seen the best that Texas had to offer and had hoped that we were able to see the Alamo. He had a good heart. We wished him well and kept walking. I'm sure not many people stop to chat with him. It's likely as taboo to be homeless as some perceive it is to have a disabled child.
Many restaurants invited us in to dine with them on the water's edge. I wanted so badly to take them up on their offers, but time simply didn't permit. But, I'm glad they approached us, knowing we'd need to carry Noah's wheelchair in some cases up a few steps in order to dine with many of them, they didn't think twice about asking us. Maintenance boats and workers that maintain the Riverwalk's greenery were also very polite and kind, moving their hoses out of the way so Noah's wheelchair could easily go by. Even other people across the pond enjoying brunch would wave to us as if they'd always known us.
It's a really beautiful thing to feel like you're seen. There are a lot of times when you feel invisible to the world. I can go to Target or or to the grocery store and people will either do their best to look away or you can't get them to stop staring. Being approached and spoken to doesn't happen as much as you might think it does. Let alone a stranger waving to you just because they are making kind bodily gesture to say hello. There is also some rich history along the Riverwalk which I loved. Many buildings with signs that told their stories. Many rusted and worn from age, but still hanging strong.
The water was an interesting shade of algae green. And occasionally you could peak through the green to see a plastic spoon or a piece of trash, but for the most part it looked like the maintenance crew did an excellent job of cleaning and maintaining the river. It's a peaceful walk, and Noah loved it. He's very much an outdoor individual. There was a costume convention going on the day that we were leaving so the boys were greeted with some very interesting characters - Star Wars, Disney,.... things with glitter and tails and horns... oh my. But colorful people that we welcomed on our path too. Some even were kind enough to pose for pictures.
Then we got an exciting phone call that the family we had wanted to badly to meet had come to the mall so we could say a quick hello before we had to leave for home. That was a really fast walk back, because we were eager to see them for as long as we could. We had connected with this family sometime ago through special needs groups and resources. They are the sweetest family you could ever imagine. Sammi is just a pinch younger than Noah and has a different diagnosis. She has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI). But nothing stops her. She has the most precious spirit you could ever imagine. She is a child that when you are around her, she makes you feel nothing but joy and happiness. She's got spunk and this incredible energy that lights up when you're around her. She's so much fun and she made me smile and laugh. And she has the perfect older brother, John and sister, Sarah. Kind, tender and super polite and helpful. They are such a beautiful family, and meeting them was the best gift before we left. And it really made the trip feel full circle and complete.
Sammi is getting a power wheelchair soon. Her mom and I spoke briefly about the financial challenges of trying to afford a handicapped accessible van. It's not easy - not easy at all. I wanted so badly to hand her the keys to the rental van that had been provided to us on the trip and say drive us to the airport and then it's yours. I know that kind of need, I know that kind of struggle and trying to figure out how to make it all work. My heart still now that I'm home I keeps thinking about how can I do more to help them. They are so deserving of good things to come their way. And this endless cycle that all of us do to try to figure out ways to financially help our children. It's a very painful place to be as a parent. Knowing there are so many things that your child needs for their daily living and that would make the world of difference in their quality of life - but you fail to be able to access it because it's always of reach. Imagine walking up each morning feeling that defeated. We do the best we can do in the moment - but a handicapped van - and ramp just to allow your child to go to the mall or a grocery store, or see the world... I keep thinking if I pray hard enough on it that Sammi will get her van, somehow, someway that precious little girl and her family see some wonderful and amazing things come their way. I love them. I hope I get the chance to get back to San Antonio someday to be able to spend more time with them.
We soaked up our handful of maybe 20-30 minutes at the Disney Store together, we said our goodbyes, I wanted to hug Sammi, but us special needs moms know we have this unspoken pact that we don't touch each other's kids because we understand how medically fragile they are and GERMS!!!! So we do that kind of we'll see you around virtual hug kind of thing. It doesn't matter what the diagnosis or condition that our children have, we recognize our lives mirroring each other. Our worries, our fears, our greatest joys, the pain and incredible beauty we get to experience each day with these amazing souls - we know it because they live it too.
We headed back to the hotel and quickly checked out and headed to the airport. We got a bit lost trying to find our departure pull-up, but our hosts were there to rescue us and guide us the rest of the way. I didn't want to leave. For just a few short days they not only gifted Noah with this beautiful vacation but they gave me so much peace from the daily strains and struggles that come along with special needs parenting. I pray they are blessed a thousand times over for what they are doing for families like ours.
Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.