For Part 1 of this entry, click here
Thursday morning, we were all DYING to see what happened with the gown delivery. Heidi had arranged for one of her co workers to videotape the box opening, AND it happened to be a day when Abby was off school early... so we knew we were all in for a treat.
USPS had guaranteed “before 12pm”, and a large group of us were glued to our screens, waiting for any hint that the package had arrived. Well, “Waiting” may be a bit generous - I lost count of how many times “Is it THERE YET!?” was posted to the Facebook group wall!
At one point, she posted an update that Laura’s gloves had arrived. Apparently her mail comes in waves, and we weren’t supposed to freak out at all at the lack of gown news.
As noon approached - and passed - we all got more anxious. I looked up the tracking number, and was greeted with a comment that no one had been available to sign it, and a notification had been left. UGH. I just about lost it!
Abby tries on her new gloves
At 1:18 pm, Heidi posted the following update:
STATUS UPDATE: I just called the mail room AGAIN, because they are usually here before two. I don't know what the holdup was, but they are just NOW leaving the building. I asked them how many stops they had to make before they got to me, and when they repeated the question to my particular carrier, he started laughing and said, "Tell her I'll come to her first". So IT SHOULD BE IN OUR HANDS WITHIN 15 MINUTES!!!! Then we will post videos & photos!
A short while later, Heidi posted a photo of a delivery guy holding a box that looked NOTHING like the one I’d shipped. I thought she was teasing us, but it turned out to simply be a really weird angle - the gown had arrived, and we all completely lost it.
It seemed like FOREVER, but Heidi finally posted a cell phone video of the event. We’d all seen photos of Abby before this point, but this was the first video of her. She seemed like such a sweetie, and TOTALLY unprepared for all of the attention. It was sort of fun to watch the Aspie kid / neurotypical mom dynamic - Heidi is SUPER touchy and affectionate, and Abby... not so much. Poor kid! She took it like a champ, though.
Again, lots of happy tears all around - across the country, and beyond! To see the video yourself, click here.
Abby, not used to this kind of attention!
Personally, I was SO ecstatic to hear the words “exact fit” several times. I was so super nervous about no fitting / Heidi not having experience with measurements, this was music to my ears!
The group just erupted. A few of the comments:
WHY CAN I ONLY LIKE THIS ONCE?????? And who is cutting onion in my office? My eyes keep tearing up . . . - Heather
I give up. Why am I even still pretending that I'm working? - Laura
I can cry--I'm in my home office. :-))) - Stacey
Oh, fuck, who has the tissues?? Poor thing looks overwhelmed by the attention, but that dress is GORGEOUS!! She is going to be STUNNING! - Shana
Total snaps to Abby for the practical concerns about sweating and not wanting to mess the dress up!!! (and my sincere thanks for letting her mom put it on her so we got a preview!!!!) - Desiree
I thought Pandora would pause when I went to play this video, but it didn't, so "What a Wonderful World" played under the whole thing. Perfect! 😀 - Angie
That's beautiful! The whole thing - the dress, the daughter, the mother, and the thought and talent and effort behind it all. Thank you so much for sharing this! - Katrina
Wow, I've got shivers. 🙂 - Karen
Darned onions here, as well..... And, Abby, we love you, too! - Pamela
Angie, that's the song they played as the background for the powerpoint photo slideshow on the day of her preschool graduation - from a school for children with autism! - Heidi
So I live very close to a large Casino. Just as I found and starting playing the video, they started doing fireworks. So I a sitting at my dining room table, watching the video, listening to fireworks going, and the crescendo was right when she slipped the dress on. Seemed appropriate. Well done, Ladies. - Lisa
Lisa, I would have bawled if that had happened when I watched! - Me
Marie, I am sitting here with mascara dripping off my chin. Don't kid yourself. I just felt like the universe was applauding her happiness. - Lisa
Heidi, you are going to, OK are, making me cry again. I LOVE how supportive you are of Abby and the fact that she is an Aspie. It is a totally different thing, but I would have given anything to have know when I was a kid that I a) had a learning disability b) that it was OK and didn't make me defective exactly, it just meant I was different and had to do things differently from people around me 3) that there were other high IQ LD people out there, etc. etc. Even more would have been to have support from my parents, Dad just said I was lazy and/or stupid because I couldn't do some things well. You Rock. So does Marie, but we already know that too 🙂 - JM
... So much love!
The photos continued into the evening, including this one of Frank - Heidi’s husband - seeing the dress for the first time. I know I wasn’t alone in sighing with happiness at the image:
Friday night, Heidi and Abby finished up their shopping for the event, keeping us all up to date on the proceedings. Sparkly turquoise heels were acquired!
Saturday, we were all dying to see photos. Comments weren’t contained to the Facebook group or its members, other people had been observing and getting excited, and were now expressing their own impatience for photos on Heidi’s wall, my wall... it was nuts!
Dear Heidi - we are stalking your page. Where is the dress? 🙂 - Leah
WHERE'S THE PICS!!! lol. I can't wait to see the princess! - Melissa
We want pics, we want pics, we want pics!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - Cindy
One of our group members is a photographer in Heidi’s area, and graciously donated her time and talents to do a portrait session with Abby, right before the dance. We were treated to a few photos as they happened, and throughout the evening. Here are a few of my favorites (Following block of photos are all courtesy Kelley Photography):
At the end of the evening, Heidi posted the update:
Just got home. She had a WONDERFUL time. Several girls and a few boys (!) told her they liked her dress. A group of girls asked her to dance with them, so she did. A couple of boys came over and started dancing with her at different times, but she said she danced away from them. She said that at first she sat by herself and texted her middle school friends, saying, "help, I'm in a social situation and don't know what to do!" They told her to be herself. She did not win the homecoming title, but I don't think it mattered a whit to her. She FELT beautiful, and everyone knew who she was!
Some fun facts:
- The black tulle underskirt was made of 35 yards of fabric.
- The gown had 500 crystals individually set on it.
- There were 24 Fairy Godmothers, total
- As a result of this, Lauren made a really great business connection for her jewelry! Karma!
- I STILL honestly have no idea what Homecoming is all about, it’s not something we did back in my hometown. Who is coming home, from where? It doesn’t sound like a school reunion thing...?
- I’m still not a fan of people in general, but this DEFINITELY warmed me up a bit. I’m still blown away at what it turned into, from such a tiny beginning. I’m amazed at how many people got on board to do something nice for a kid they’d never met, and how emotionally INVESTED everyone was. This was a truly amazing experience!
A final word from the parents...
“As parents, we suffer when our children suffer. As parents of children on the autism spectrum, we would give anything to help them be understood and accepted by their peers. What Marie did, what the Fairy Godmothers gifted us, was Abby's recognition of her own worth. For the first time in her life, she felt beautiful, and she felt liked by her peers. This is worth more than all the diamonds in the world.
... A fairy tale dress made by a magical dressmaker made possible by fairy godmothers from across the country. A special thanks to the magical dressmaker. Not only are you a maker of incredibly beautiful dresses but also the maker of one young ladies dreams.”
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Links to My Other Posts on Autism
I Was Like Your Autistic Kid
The Autism Diet - and Why It's Harmful
How to Make a Comfortable Pleated and Wired Face Mask
One Autistic’s Guide to Thriving During Social Isolation
Is ABA Abusive?
"VAXXED" is Dangerous: A History Lesson
On "Passing", and Allistic Gaslighting
Symbols Matter, Words Matter
Explaining Autistic Interoception
My Thoughts on "Autism Awareness"
Autism Speaks Does Not Speak for Me
Interacting with Autistic Children: A Guide for Charity Appearances