This will be told over today and tomorrow. The shadow and the light, the heartbreak and the joy.
Today I’m going to ask you to picture a scene, walk in someone else’s shoes for a moment and then we’ll get to the bit about the show tomorrow.
A stranger walks into meet you, your mum and dad. On your 15th birthday. They know what the surprise is but have kept most of it from a wonderful young man called Jack. This stranger has a special gift because he’s been through so much and it’s his birthday
His diagnosis is asd (autism), adhd, severe social anxiety, panic disorder and demand avoidance which means being asked to make the simplest decision can lead to anxiety and more. And he’s in a restaurant of his choosing and it’s not a great moment of joy and wow I’m going to a show.
Jack goes into a full on panic attack to the extent he hides behind his dad. On his 15th birthday. There is no expectation or rules for how someone receives their gift from GTL. But at that moment GTL is the enemy and spoken to as such. Jack won’t be at the table and leaves, to the car with dad. Mum and dad apologise. Mum sits with me in tears saying sorry over and over, when asked not to say sorry about a young man in distress her reply is simply...it’s what we do.
And it’s simply what we do, accept the person we’re taking to their show for who they are.
It’s heartbreaking to witness a young person in such distress, mum in tears, mum and dad at a loss.
A child who hasn’t been to school in two years and says he has no friends. Who has just started homeschooling for a few hours a week. But not at home because it’s his safe place, so it’s done at his grandmother’s home. No one can come to his safe space.
Mum and Dad, Pauline and Steve don’t get a night off. There’s nowhere, no one Jack finds safe.
Except music, especially Sabaton and their lyrics. He’s a pro when it comes to war, especially tanks. The Centurian being his favourite.
He doesn’t want to be seen so he’s been given some shades. I could finish this with how it all ends well which it does but that’s for tomorrow.
Today I hope we learn more understanding, empathy, compassion. One thing Pauline told me is because he is big for his age and his moments can leave people turning their back on him he’s even more isolated.
The Given To Live community is generous at heart. This young man needs hearts saying your ok, if we see you at Sabaton we won’t turn our backs on you.
Tomorrow is for the joy, the education I got from this wonderful and smart young man.
And that’s what he is - wonderful, smart, kind, self aware and human just like you and me.