She was almost but not quite to the point of no emotional return. Her horse, Juliet, knew a lightweight when she felt one and took full advantage… stopping to graze whenever she wanted, veering off the beaten path. For 30 minutes, all 48 pounds of Rylie dug deep and pressed on. But then, it was too much. From 2 horses back, I could hear the anxiety in her voice as she commanded Juliet to, “WALK ON. NO GRASS.” I could hear the tears behind the effort, and I knew we were near the end.
Our leader, Jess, encouraged Ry to keep going. I kept Rylie talking about cows and Colorado, cousins and swimming for as long as I could. But after another 15 minutes of stopping and starting, Ry’s eyes had started to leak and her body was slumped in defeat.
Jess grabbed Juliet by the pony-lead and kept the line moving, instructing Ry to hold on to the saddle horn and keep her eyes forward. She wasn’t upset in the least, but I found myself biting my tongue.
I wanted to yell, “I’m sorry!”
“I’m sorry. Some things are really hard for Ry. It’s amazing that she’s doing this! It’s such a huge big amazing thing!”
I wasn’t worried about Rylie. I knew we’d bring her around, that she’d muscle through… I knew she’d do this. But I desperately wanted to explain to our leader and the other two guests.
To the grocery check-out clerk.
To the lifeguard at the pool.
To the other moms on the play ground.
I’m sorry she’s standing so close. She’s trying to memorize you.
I’m sorry we’re interrupting your lunch.
I’m sorry we’re making your job harder.
But the trail didn’t give me the chance that day to lay out the full scene that day. It did give me plenty of time to think, though.
Sometimes ‘I’m sorry’ is really, really important.
And, other times, it cuts life short. ‘I’m sorry’ robs people of their chance to be amazing, to do their job, to show grace, to walk with me.
I think I would rather be thankful than sorry. If we can make it through to the end of the melt down, the ceremony, the trail ride, the dinner… what I’d like to say is, “Thank you.”
Thank you for handling an awkward situation with grace.
Thank you for loving on my family and my child.
Thank you for doing your job well, whether easy or difficult.
Thank you for stepping up to the plate.
Thank you for lending a hand back there.
Thank you for being a great example.
It’s not my job to apologize for every instance of awkward or hard or annoying. Not every time. That’s just life, and we’ve come to expect too little of others… and of ourselves.
But I will, I absolutely will, go out of my way to encourage decency and beauty and simple effort. Because we’ve gotten a little low on that end, too, amen? So, call it when you see it. ‘Thank you’ doesn’t have to be anything but sincere. No flowers or extra tips or hand-lettered gift tags. The simplest effort with the greatest impact is your voice, your brave and shaky voice, stopping for two seconds, making eye-contact, and saying, “thank you,” out loud.
I’m on it.
P.S. Rylie? That girl finished a 2-hour trail ride on her own horse in the mountains of Colorado. We did not have to turn around. We did not have to get off the trail. We just had to make a few adjustments. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing.
For years and years, kind friends and family and even strangers have asked if there’s any kind of donation collection for Miss Rylie Joy. The answer has always been no. We use state-provided therapy for speech and occupational/physical and what the state doesn’t cover, we pay out-of-pocket. Out of pocket expenses have been specialist evaluations, equine therapy, music therapy, and other doctors that insurance just hasn’t come on board with as of this century. Rylie walks unassisted and was blessed with an iPad for school-use… so there aren’t really any big, huge, amazing things that we’d love to have to make life easier.
There is one thing that would make life super fun: a bike. And, not just any bike… a cool tricycle with a basket and brakes that are easy to use. A tricycle that doesn’t scream ADAPTIVE EQUIPMENT! CHILD WITH IMPAIRED MOTOR DEVELOPMENT ON BOARD! A tricycle that would allow Rylie Joy to ride with her friends and be the super-cool seven-year-old that she is… .while giving her a little more time to work on the balance aspect of two wheels. A tricycle would let her body practice the braking and starting and stopping without mastering balance at the same time (a perfect storm of overwhelmed-ness for most kids… Ry especially).
I want to buy Rylie a bike.
And I want to know if you’ll help me?
They aren’t cheap. And then you have to ship them. And then you need a helmet and OF COURSE a bell and streamers. But beyond the price of the thing… there’s the magic of simply coming together as a community of friends and pitching in $10 or $20 or $300 or $2.50 and making a sum larger than the parts… of doing it together because we can. You have cheered this girl on since before she took her first steps. What a joy it would be to give her a brand-new, shiny, YOU CAN ACTUALLY RIDE THIS bike- not on her birthday, not on Christmas, but on a random, ordinary, perfect day.
It’s a risk, I know. It’s not absolutely necessary and it’s not saving the world. It’s just something beautiful and fun and helpful for our girl. Honestly, that’s not something I want to do alone. It’s kind of too big for me… and I’m not talking about price. I’m talking about holding happiness. It’s meant to spill over and be shared.
So, do it with me.
If you’re in, head here:
Or share this link: http://www.gofundme.com/hotwheelsforrylie
I’m not sorry for asking.
I am so incredibly excited to say THANK YOU. Thank you for loving on my girl in this remarkable, tangible, memory-making way.