This weekend I had the honor of attending the Boyer Children’s Clinic Annual Auction at the Seattle Fairmont Olympic hotel in downtown Seattle. The is the second year I was invited to attend by a family that I babysat for when I was in graduate school. My friend Erika first introduced this family to me when she couldn’t babysit for them one Thursday afternoon in the spring of 2008 and from that point on, I was Erika’s “back-up nanny” for the days she couldn’t be there.
Over the years, this family has become a second home to me in Seattle and I am humbled to have them in my life. They’ve offered their guest room to me when it looked as though I might be homeless for a month, hosted my 30th birthday in their living room for 20 girls two years ago and when I was applying for my current job just over a year ago, the father generously offered to write a recommendation email to his contacts when I was interviewing. I still laugh to this day when I remember the casual conversation we had as he wrote my check at the end of a night and discovered that I was applying for a job at a company where he knew the founder. Sometimes the world is just too small.
I have loved watching their children grow up and as we sat around the table after dinner Saturday night, Erika and I laughed as we went back through the years with Dana and all of the memorable stories we had while caring for their two sons. Their oldest son received services at the Boyer Children’s Clinic a few years ago and as a thank you to the people who have been involved in the lives of their children, Dana and Randy purchase a table or two every year at the auction and invite their family and loved ones to sit with them to dine in the beautiful Spanish Ballroom at the Fairmont. Last year was my first year to attend with Erika and we were honored to be invited. Sitting next to Dana this year, I was reminded of how grateful I am to have them in my life.
Each year the event has a local celebrity to host the evening, an auctioneer for the fundraiser and one person who speaks to their experiences of being the parent of a special needs child. Last year I listened intently as a parent shared one of the most honest stories of what it was like to be the father of an exceptional child. I am genuinely intrigued by people and the stories of their lives and I am even more captivated by the ones who are able to honestly and articulately convey both the beauty and heartache of what it is like to walk this earth. So when author Sherman Alexie took the stage for the second year in a row, I put down my fork and turned to listen to what words he would have for us again this year. Over the past year, I have thought often about his story from last November and on Saturday night I was moved, again, by his words on being the father a special needs son: “My wife and I learned to love the child we were given and not the one we had hoped for.” The beauty of his honest admission continues to tighten my throat and will haunt me for a while I am sure.
Boyer is a clinic filled with story after story of parents who came looking for a place to bring their children when nothing else seemed to be working. Offering services related to speech, occupational and physical therapies, the clinic addresses not only the physical needs of the child, but the emotional health of a family learning to live with an exceptional child. No family is ever turned away because of an inability to pay and it is the camaraderie and community of these people that moves me most. I was honored to attend and wish the clinic well as they continue to meet the needs of families in my community.
Happy Monday, my friends.