John had slid out of the seat and was on the floor. He looked like a puddle of jello, he was so limp. Eric was reaching under the table trying to catch John who was strangely quiet, but moving. John stood up and headed straight toward me. I leaned down and spread my arms to catch him, when out of nowhere, John reached up onto a table and pulled down a cheeseburger, took one bite and dropped it to the floor, all this without stopping and still headed right into my arms. I was horrified as the burger rolled across the floor. Now I knew why John had screamed at the chicken nuggets, he had wanted a cheeseburger.
The burger belonged to a well-dressed business man who had a news paper spread out on the table and was sipping coffee. Out of the corner of my eye I had seen him unwrap the burger when I was walking backward.
“I am so very sorry, I’ll pay for it.” I said breathlessly as I walked back to where the man was sitting. To my surprise, he was laughing, big hard fully blown belly laugh and shaking his head no. When he finally caught his breath, he reached up and touched my arm.
“I am sorry, I am not laughing at you or your son. It’s just he was so quick, and caught me off-guard, it’s nothing, really, I don’t want you do buy me one or pay for that one. I didn’t need it, I just bought it to have, my wife will be thrilled I didn’t eat it. You have your hands full, let it go. It made my day, I was stressed at work and came here for a break, and boy did I need to laugh. Thank you for making my day.”
He stood up and began to clean up his area. “Go on now, it’s okay, really, I need to get back to the office, and you, you need to get back to your son.” He smiled at John and chuckled again as he walked over to a trash can.
I slipped back into the booth with John in tow. I was embarrassed for having left John for a minute, and yet, knew if I had picked him up to carry with me to the counter, he would have screamed violently. It was a no-win when it came to trying to know what to do or not to do when you had to navigate the public with John.
“Mom, what about the fries?” Eric asked.
“You have got to be kidding me. Let’s just finish up. You eat John’s nuggets and we will do the drive-thru. We got off lucky, don’t press your luck son.” I said as I hugged John close.
I looked out at the rain and listened to John hum and thought about how lucky I had been that the man had been so understanding. Suddenly the silence of my thoughts was interrupted by an employee holding a tray full of food.
“Your order.” She said as she sat it down on the table.
“NO, NO, NO, not mine, quick before my son gets that!” I said to her.
She put her hand on her hip and looked a bit out done. “Listen lady, you are the only Mom with two boys back here. Now this is yours.”
“But I didn’t order it. I didn’t pay for it.” I argued as John reached for the tray and began to slap the food.
“Yea, I know. That man did, that guy in the suit. He said to tell ya, thanks for the laugh, and take time for yourself to eat, does that mean anything to ya?” She said as she started to walk off.
I bowed my head and whispered to nobody in particular, “Yes, it means the world to me.” This stranger, who had been watching us, saw I was not eating and had bought my lunch.
The tray contained two cheeseburgers, a coke, large order of fries and ice cream for us all. In one minute my faith in humanity was restored and I knew that no matter how hard the days, God had everyday angels watching over us. The rest of the day went smooth just because I knew, someone did care.
And that, dear Readers, is why I am having my big to-do for Autism Awareness Month. To help you be everyday angels.