It looked to be the best night of his young life and everything was going smoothly. We left after breakfast to make the four hour drive and arrived in Denver right before rush hour. The BIG night had finally arrived—Aerosmith live in concert and we didn’t want to miss a thing.
I’d promised Chase a couple years back if they ever came to the Mile High City I would take him and sure enough the Bad Boys from Boston finally headed our way. When I bought the tickets he deemed me, “The Best Mom in the World,” and walked around the house singing, “Train Kept a Rolling.” For a kid that routinely uses the phrase, “sweet emotion” to describe his appreciation it was fitting. After all, it was Aerosmith that transported Chase out his imaginary world and into the first mainstream interest he’s ever had—rock n’ roll music.
When Luke bought Guitar Hero Aerosmith and asked Chase to play with him something clicked and Chase was hooked. Music became his new love. The iTouch he’d barely touched became his best friend and the timing was perfect. He was about to start high school where kids don’t talk about dinosaurs or pirates.
To say the band changed his life is selling it short. Like Luke with tennis, Chase finally found an interest that would help him connect with his peers. It was a God-send, something every parent of an autistic kid would want. Being obsessed with something age appropriate is socially more acceptable. He might be the most awkward lover of rock music at school, but he’s the most knowledgeable so it works. You don’t have to Google anything when he’s around.
When we pulled up to the arena Chase’s eyes grew big. He couldn’t stop smiling. A friend of a friend was trying to arrange for us to go backstage so we’d brought my albums to have them autographed. This got everyone’s attention. A teenager holding a vinyl record is a strange sight.
Everyone wanted to know where he got them and before long Chase became friends with all the folks around us. When people were guessing what songs the band was going to play he was able to wow them by pulling the set list out of his pocket. This warmed up the crowd even more and before you know it he and all his new Aerosmith peeps were sharing every story they had.
Listening to the conversation was hysterical but at one point I could see that Chase was crossing the invisible line most people sense but he can never seem to feel. His tendency to go on and on was taking the lead. It was like a drum solo that never ends. As I’m accustomed to doing, I started cueing him to stop but he couldn’t. My frustration was becoming obvious when the lady next to us said,
“Its fine don’t worry about it. He’s living his dream right now. We all are. Everyone wants to be a rock star.”
Her kindness toward Chase and reminder to me were the pause I needed. Let him have his day in the sun I thought. He’s in his element. Everyone here loves the same thing he loves.
I took a deep breath and smiled. The gates opened and as we headed into the arena Chase’s new friend asked me what my name was. I told her and then she said,
“I’m Penny, nice to meet you.”
“Penny, is your name really Penny?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she said.
“Wow you just made my day. I have a thing for pennies. I find a lot of them but I don’t meet many of them.”
Before she could say anything more we were separated by the security line. She went her way and we went ours. We found our seats and just like the scene in the line, Chase got everyone around us talking and fully engrossed in the moment. Remembering what Penny said I didn’t stop him. He was the warm-up act before the warm-up band.
His enthusiasm had everyone on their feet from the minute Steven Tyler and Joe Perry rose up out of the stage floor to the very last song. His joy was infectious. I don’t know what was more fun for me—enjoying the show itself or Chase. I was swept away by both.
I didn’t think it could get any better until the encore. When Steven Tyler rose back up from the stage floor in a cloud of smoke playing the haunting opening to “Dream On” Chase was so moved he put his arm around me. Then everyone around us followed his lead and put their arms around each other and sang,
Dream until your dreams come true….
It was concert bliss. It felt like we were sitting around the campfire with our faces so close to the flame we glowed with the embers.
I will never forget it and as we walked to the car I realized one of the biggest challenges adults face is losing sight of our dreams. We’re so busy worrying about the details of life we cheat ourselves out of dreaming the impossible dream. Or worse, we stop believing the minute our hopes are dashed.
Chase isn’t like this and that’s what Penny saw in him. His dreams are bigger than his real world and that’s actually a beautiful thing. He’s not out of touch with reality he’s just not ruled by it.
When I think about this I realize that God has answered my prayer. My dream is coming true even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. My greatest hope for my children has never been that they would be like everyone else. It’s been that their lives would reflect the joy of the Lord—that they would be bright lights in a dark world and Chase is. There’s no doubt about that and this, more than a song, should be my reminder to keep dreaming for him. Nothing is beyond his reach not even center stage.