We started the evening out meeting with a group downtown Monroe for a pre-dinner photo shoot. They posed, smiled, laughed - and we the parents took all kinds of pictures. They all looked so good, dressed up so nicely.
Then we went to Takara Japanese Steakhouse for dinner. Now you must understand - we gave Garren the option of not going. But he insisted. He wanted to be there with his friends. Even though he couldn't eat anything, he wanted to hang out with everyone. It was fun, and he enjoyed being there.
After dinner we headed to the dance. Nancy and I weren't sure what to expect. We weren't sure how Garren would do with the number of students that would be there. We walked in, and as we were headed toward the door, word began to spread: "Garren's here!" People started to crowd around the door, everyone trying to come out at once, everyone trying to get a view of Garren.
"Everybody back up, he's coming in."
As we walked in the door, everyone started clapping. It brought tears to my eyes. I looked up and saw a couple of other adults with tears in their eyes as well. Once inside, several friends would crowd around, say hi to Garren, then take off. This happened several times with several groups. Then we were alone, just me and Nancy and Garren. I asked Garren where he wanted to go, so we ended up sitting next to the dance floor. Several more friends would stop by to say hi, then we would be left alone again. After about 20 minutes, I asked Garren what he wanted to do. He shrugged. I said "If you want to go somewhere, or do something, just tell me."
A few minutes later, he pulled out his alphabet sheet, and started spelling. "You can stay here, and Katherine can push me around." (Katherine was Garren's date.) Ok. I asked just to be sure, "You want Katherine to push you around?" "Yes." I asked Katherine - and she smiled, big. Of course! Off they went. Next thing I knew, Garren was on the dance floor, surrounded by friends. They were all laughing, talking, dancing, and having a good time. (Who wants to hang out with their dad at the 8th grade dance anyway?)
We ended up staying to the end, and Garren loved every minute of it. It was so good for him to get away from Mom, Dad, nurses and doctors for a little while. His friends were great! They loved on him, and welcomed him into their conversations without hesitation. All in all, it was an amazing night.