June 21, 2004

Today was Benjaminís last day in public school. He wonít be back next year.

As I was standing with Pam, his friend, companion and educator for the past 5-years (I canít bring myself to call her his aide), I watched him walk the schoolyard holding hands with one of his classmates. All the other children were running around Ė excited by the prospect of summer vacation, but this girl was taking time away from everything else to walk with Ben.

Watching I sensed that she knew holding his hand was more important . . . she could always join in later or next year. Pushing back a well of emotion, I smiled. His last day.
Who will walk with him next year when everyone at school has special needs? Turning this over in my mind, I watched a second classmate take Benís other hand. I tried to exchange pleasantries with other parents, but my gaze kept coming back to Ben and his friends.

They had broken away from the hubbub and were heading toward the fields. Their little group had grown to five. Watching, I expected the group dynamic to change. I was sure talk between the others would distract them from Ben, he would become a bystander and they would rejoin the celebration.

I was wrong. Two more classmates joined his group.

Standing next to me, I heard Pam tell me how good the kids are at gently changing Benís direction. I could see Benís smile. The entire group was smiling and I couldnít help but smile as well. The moment was broken only when everyone was called to lineup for their formal dismissal. This was Benís last.

Ben, I donít know if we will find you friends like this again. I donít know if we ever really did. Itís more likely that they found you and you found them. All I can do is try my very best and watch you work your magic smile in the next adventure. You always do.

Benís Dad

Ben & His Friends | Meet My Ben | Mom's Journal
Ben & His Dog | Morning Breakfast | Ben's Words
Big Ben | The Farmers Prayer