Friends are so important in our lives. When you don't have friends you're life is a little sadder and poorer. Friends share your ups and downs, successes and failures, joys and desperation's. We rely on our friends to sometimes show us the way and share their knowledge and in return learn and share from us.
A lot of people living with special needs don't have friends. Not friends in the true sense of the word. They have lots of friendships but not those one or two very special people who share their lives no matter what and sometimes feel closer than family. It's hard to make friends when you are different and can't share the same activities and experiences which is often how friendships are formed.
Anybody who has ever met Cameron knows how friendly he is, human connections are very important to Cameron and he leaves an impression with just about everyone he meets. He has a loving family with lots of cousins and second cousins, doting aunts and uncles and grandparents. He has our sizable friendship circle where everybody loves Cameron and accepts him, allowing Cam to be Cam and encouraging him in every way. All of these people look out for Cameron and celebrate his successes whilst also sharing our sad times and being incredibly supportive.
However, despite all this love and support I would have told you before today that Cameron didn't have a special friend his own age, a special person who enjoys Cameron's companionship and wants to spend time with him. Not because he has to but because he wants to. Someone who doesn't care what others may say or do because of his friendship but celebrates Cameron and encourages him to grow by sharing his knowledge and unconditional support. Someone who will hold back to make sure he is okay and see his potential. Someone who will take the time to help Cameron be more than he already is.
Today I watched Sam help Cameron to climb and I realized Cameron has a friend. Sam is Cameron's friend. He is a few years younger but physically he is as tall and strong. He has grown up all his life knowing Cameron and I have never seen him be scared or shy away. In fact it is Sam who comes out to our car every visit and helps Cameron out of the car and into the house. It is Sam who patiently helped him down flight after flight of stairs at AQUA. It was Sam who was the first person I trusted to leave Cameron with (apart from family and a couple of very close adult friends) when I went to buy lunch at the zoo. It is Sam who will say - It's okay, I'll go with him or I'll watch him - giving me and the other adults a break.
I always knew Sam was special but I hadn't realized how special until I watched him today with Cameron and how patiently he helped Cameron and rejoiced in his success. I'm not sure who's smile was bigger Cameron's or Sam's.
It's really nice to realize that Cameron has a special friend. I had come to accept that having a special friend his own age was probably something Cameron would never have and although this was sad I had comforted myself with the knowledge that his life is filled with wonderful, awesome friends who make him feel very special but I felt sad for him because I know how special my friends are and how special they were to me as I grew up - especially in my teens.
Cam and Sam can't sit and chat like other friends would but you never know, I'm not giving up on my dream of Cameron learning to talk and if he does he will have a mate sitting there waiting for a chat - probably about a computer game, karate or something really weird and that will be wonderful.
Sam - thank you for being Cameron's friend. He may not be able to say the words but I can see it in his eyes, he likes being your friend and he values your friendship very much.