Rosedale Prom 2014

Saturday morning I drove the van to the coin-op car wash and scrubbed away years of grime. I cleared out scraps of paper with lists and driving directions, food wrappers and flyers on all manner of ailments handed out in doctor's offices. Popcorn? When did I eat popcorn in the van? Must have been Ruby. One finds crazy stuff in the inner folds of a vehicle. So, why would I suddenly decide to clean this machine that symbolizes my resentment of the fact that I even have a wheelchair van-- this paradoxical metaphor of both my imprisonment and freedom? Must be time again for the Rosedale Prom.

This year was going to be even more special. One of the UT Cowboys (see previous post: Cowboy Crush) that volunteers at the school had asked if Savannah could be his date. Every time we asked Savannah about it, she beamed. If her sister overheard, she would cross her arms and "harrumph" her jealousy, which would set Savannah into a fit of sibling, gloat-laughter.

Savannah and her Prom date kicking off the dance
When we arrived, her Cowboy greeted her in a tuxedo topped with his hat. The middle-aged women swooned and blushed and cooed, "aw, how cute." Tamara said to Ruby, "That's the kind of caring man you need to find one day." We all got our photo taken and I started her feeding pump. Her date pinned a corsage to her butterfly straps and took her straight to the dance floor.

Soon the place was packed with children and parents and extended families and volunteers from UT, Anderson H.S., and Austin High.  People swarmed around Savannah to tell her how beautiful she looked and take her for a twirl.

I've never seen her so happy, surrounded by these people who genuinely care for her. Her date didn't stay with her most of the night out of pity or obligation, he truly seemed to enjoy the night as much as her.  "Savannah is awesome," he said, "She's having so much fun."

Her teachers took a turn and so did her Austin High buddy.  All of them danced and sang and smiled until their
Savannah with one of her teachers
faces hurt.

The Rosedale Prom still amazes me. So many people come together to donate time, raise money, build incredible decorations, and organize a catered party for the kids and families that society has forgotten. These are the kids who don't get to go to the school dance or have dates, get crazy hairdos and wear formal gowns. I watched a seventeen year old boy dance with his mother for the first time. Another danced all night by hopping up and down in place. One dad had his little, quadriplegic girl up in his arms swaying around the floor. 

And then there were the parents, these people who bear the brunt of caring for these children, dressed up, out among others "who get it." They swayed over the floor during the slow songs because this party is as much for them as it is for the kids. These battered and beaten parents, these unsung heroes who continue to give and give, even after their dreams have been shattered and their hearts broken.

And that is what the Rosedale Prom is all about... one magical night to be normal... our normal.


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