Friday, August 16, 2013

Never say Goodbye......

"Never say goodbye, because saying

goodbye means going away,

and going away means forgetting."

How true is that quote....

First off I want to say sorry that I've been "away" in the land of blogging. We've had an incredibly busy, but fulfilling summer this year making lots of amazing memories with friends and family. I'm posting this just to kind of give a heads up on what's been going on.

We are blessed beyond measure to have met Marc and his parents, Andrea and Ernie Leber last summer. I don't want this to dwell on the sadness that Marc's departure to Georgia Tech today leaves us with, but I did want to post about some of my own feelings with him leaving.

First off, it's amazing how you never know something or someone is missing from your life, until they've walked in, left their mark on your life and in your heart, and then leave for new experiences. Marc, you are such a person. We didn't know that you were missing from Ashton's life, but we certainly feel it with your departure to Georgia Tech today. 

Marc has been an instrumental person in helping Ashton come out of his shell of Autism. Those who knew Ashton prior to June 16, 2012 can tell you that Ashton is not the same child now as he was back then. Back then he was just coming out of the huge regression that had plagued him for his entire 6th grade year and part of his 7th grade year. He was finally on an upswing behaviorally, but was still falling behind socially and it was heartbreaking. He didn't really seem to care about others, wasn't yet reading facial expressions and emotions and just lacked awareness of others around him. He didn't seem to care about being or having friends. The morning of June 16, 2012 changed his life and little by little over the last 14months, I've seen Ashton come back to life. His amazingly happy-go-lucky personality has come back, he's social and verbal and he loves being around people.

To say that Ashton adores Marc and worships him is a huge understatement. I've never seen Ashton ask for someone with the same longing that he does with Marc. I don't think he quite understands yet what 'Marc being away at college' means but I hope with patience, love and understanding that he'll realize that just because Marc is further away, doesn't mean that he's any less his friend or big brother. Yes, I said it.... Ashton calls Marc his big brother. I've never seen Ashton forge such a close bond with someone as he has with Marc. Ashton loves high 5s and double high 5s, but the smiles that he gives when he gets them from Marc is on a whole different level than when he receives them from someone else. He's just different when Marc is around, and different in a wonderful and beautiful way. I hope that sticks.

Ashton smiles nearly all the time now and when he poses for pictures (you do see his cheesy grin and poses above, right?! :)), he's just relaxed and well, happyI don't want to lose that super happy part of his personality. Going to high school is a huge transition in and of itself but he's also coming back to our own home community that was sorely lacking in knowledge and compassion when he was at the middle school level. I'm hoping  and have faith that the high school level will be better. Having Marc move away is another big change for him and one that I think may actually be harder for him than changing schools. Maybe I'm over thinking it all. But Ashton's level of social awareness is what scares me. He realizes the dynamics of things around him are changing and he sometimes feeds from that which can be both good and bad. I will take the fact that he's aware of what's going on around him any day over the little boy who for so long lived in his own little, closed off world and wouldn't let anyone in.

Hoping for some peace and and happiness for my boy... that's all I want. For him to be happy, progressing and making new friends. Thank you Marc and family for blessing us with your friendship and love! Andrea and Ernie, if you ever want to borrow a kid, Ashton's ready! ;) You know he loves your comic book collections and just hanging out at your house. He'll even eat you out of house and home, just like he does us here at home! lol :)

Seriously, I'm hoping the best for everyone involved with this transition ..... and to Marc, have a BLAST at GA Tech! :) You should have received your first letter from us upon your arrival :) Best of luck to you in your new adventures and remember, study hard, make lots of new friends and most of all, remember Rule #3: HAVE FUN!!! :) We are excited to see what this new chapter of life brings you and can't wait to be a small part of it. 

Marc, thank you also for allowing Ashton one last chance to hang out with his favorite person doing his most favorite thing ever, swimming at the beach and Michael Phelpsing (a phrase coined by you and Ashton). I'm glad we were all able to give hugs and say "See You Later" with smiles on our faces and remember all of the amazing experiences you two have had together. I know the future will bring new memories, new moments and lots of new experiences for you both and I can't wait. Until we see you again kid! Remember, we are only a letter, call, text or Skype chat away!

And I will leave this post with the "We Will Miss You" movie that I made for Marc. It was an extremely cathartic experience putting this video together, picking songs, what to caption, what to say, etc. You may want to turn your speakers up ALL THE WAY initially as Ashton does some speaking/talking in the very beginning of the video. Below the video is the text for what Ashton said.

Hi Marc. It's me Ashton.

I want to say thank you for being a super awesome best friend and big brother. Being around you makes me happy. You and I have lots of fun together. We race (and you run super fast), we hang out (and laugh and act silly) but most of all, you let me be exactly who I am.

No matter if I'm flapping my hands, saying silly things that make no sense or just kind of staring off into space, you accept what I am and what I do and realize it's just a part of what makes me the super cool guy that I am.

I will do good work in high school and I know you will do good work in college. I will make new friends and so will you. I know we will still talk on Skype and on Facebook and I am already working on my first letter to you. 

I will miss giving you high fives, double high fives and I will miss your big hugs. I will miss racing with you and coming in first. I will miss our random conversations about whatever is on our minds. I will miss just hanging out and being silly. But most of all, I will just miss you.

Thank you for being my super awesome and fun best friend and big brother. I hope I see you soon and I love you. For now, I will say "see you later".