The Stranger

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"Hands." Grace & Leisa, Photo: Rory Hamilton

A stranger. As he rushed by me during the performers' exit from the stage, he reached out, grabbed my hand and squeezed it. "Your daughter touched my life today."

Wow. That was unexpected. And, it felt Good.

It was Saturday. The second in a row, during which the heavens drenched Middle Tennessee unmercifully. This time to the point of flooding.* All this made our trip downtown to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts to hear Nashville In Harmony perform–dicey. Adding insult, a tornado warning sounded as Grace and I made our way from our car down a long, unsheltered sidewalk with a barely protective, small umbrella.

The uncertainty of it all, her possible hyper sense of the barometric pressure caused Grace, once we arrived in the auditorium, to begin "a melt down." It came on quickly. She needed all of me. Quickly, I dropped my umbrella.  It hit the floor with a loud click. I turned toward her, grabbed her shoulders, turned her toward me and gave her a very firm, long embrace. One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three…. It didn't take long and she was fine. But, from my peripheral vision, I saw the heads turn.  The mens' section of the choir–who were standing at the back of the room–were seemingly looking at our commotion.

So, I don't know what the stranger that grabbed my hand upon his exit had seen. It doesn't take a rocket scientist, at this stage and age, to realize that Grace is different. Ironically, part of her difference comes in her total lack of inhibition. What the stranger could have seen was Grace's enraptured enjoyment of the music we heard that day once we were calmly settled in our seats. He could have seen her smiles projecting  out into the space all around her.

And, as I say to people when explaining becomes necessary: I will never know the many ways my child will bless those around her. Strangers even. Strangers moved by her smile. 

*The back story: This post was written on the evening of the first day of Nashville's 1,000-year flood. I knew that something very strange was happening when I left our neighborhood that afternoon. Conditions unlike I'd ever seen in my 16 years in my area of town. As the day went on, the conditions grew more bizarre but until the next morning, they were more severely affecting other parts of town. By early evening, bizarre reports were coming in of first one then two and eventually three interstates being shut down due to flooding. Interstate 24 was the most epic as cars began bobbing in the rain and the flood waters washed a private school portable classroom onto the interstate where it collided with a truck. The tornado never manifested downtown or, to my knowledge, anywhere else in Nashville that day. Once inside Frist Center, I was assured by security personnel, when asked, that there was an emergency plan in place in case of a tornado was imminent. I'm unsure why the sirens were sounding. Tornadoes, as we would learn within the next 24 hours were not our worries. More flood coverage can be found in this blog's #NashvilleFlood coverage.

0 Responses to The Stranger

  1. I worked with Don Schlosser, the musical director of Nashville in Harmony, in a little scientific journal office at Vanderbilt for a few years before I started staying at home with my kids. I never have gone to hear the chorus. Thanks for reminding me that I want to do that.

  2. Actually, a tornado did hit off Sneed Rd. As a friend tells me, the victims of that tornado were also flooded. But they were thankful for the twister. Insurance paid because of the tornado, but would not have paid for damage due to flood. I guess sometimes mercy comes in forms we don’t expect. (or in your case, in the form of a squeeze of the hand by a stranger). This was a beautiful post. I am always grateful when someone expresses something positive about my son, who also has autism. It’s a breath of fresh air amid the usual stares, glares and huffs from others.

  3. It’s a small world! I think I know who you are talking about and he’s got CHARISMA! Thank you for commenting, Rebecca! They perform this weekend on Saturday night, May 22!

  4. Becky, thanks for the comment. Know you can relate. Somewhere along the way in our 13 years on the journey, things began to shift. I may have written here about that before, but could probably stand to again. I think there’s several reasons for the shift, but some of it is our size and age. Like I’ve written above, it’s pretty obvious now…just a kid acting up. I like the mercy comparison. Thanks. And thanks for telling me about the tornado. That was very close. It also illustrates again the magnitude to the flood’s impact and how daily I/we continue to learn of more human and otherwise evidence of the flood’s impact.

  5. Leisa,
    Your writing amazes me dailey. It takes me to places I’ve never been before.We were just at the Frist yesterday.So when you decribed what happen on that day I could see it very plainly.What a differance one stranger can make.Thanks for all you talent that you share so freely with the world.

  6. Thank you, Darlene. And thanks, especially, for commenting here. I am beginning, finally, to speak up on how important it is to me, professionally, for people to comment on my blog as it strengthens my “platform” in the perception of future book agents & publishers. Greatly appreciated!