(This blog tells my family's story. To see more, click "blog" at the top of this webpage.)
On a free day, Beth suggested the Mohegan Sun casino to see the immense works of art. Wheeling through massive spaces, she realized at one point that we had accidentally entered a restricted area for adults eighteen and over. With slot machines nearby, Beth, seventeen, asked to try the poker slots. I put quarters in the machine and let her tell me which cards to keep. She never touched the slots and helped me lose $30.
I took photographs at every destination while Beth collected menus and flyers and other small things for a scrapbook she planned to make. She found one she liked at a shop in the historic bridge district in Mystic, Connecticut. Equally exciting, we found the fifth Harry Potter book, The Order of the Phoenix, to add to her collection, one of the five million copies bought in the first 24 hours.
Beth’s happiness was contagious.
We ate lunch at Mystic Pizza, famous for the 1988 movie with the same name. I helped her scoot out of her chair to a seat in a booth. Memorabilia decorated every nook and cranny at the restaurant and Beth rated it the best pizza, ever. I bought her “A Slice of Heaven” T-shirt.
We sat on the waterfront of Mystic’s picturesque harbor on a flawless afternoon. An easy travel buddy, Beth appreciated everything under the sun. She tilted her face upward, closed her eyes, and smiled. I wrapped her in a big bear hug. She patted my back with her right hand, a habit from her toddler days. Knowing how suddenly bad things could happen, I would never take joy for granted. I embraced the singular moment while a new realization dawned.
My guilt for causing her injury was self-imposed and no one, least of all Beth, blamed me.
Junior Nationals ended with a dinner and dance in a large packed ballroom. When loud music started, hundreds of kids with every kind of physical disability danced standing up, sitting in a wheelchair, or break dancing on the floor. With no one different and no one the same, they all shined in that snapshot of time.
Beth danced carefree in the middle of it all.
Next destination of a non-stop summer: Cambridge, Massachusetts!
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