“Congratulations and good luck when you go home.” That is how the speech introducing the Most Improved Resident award at Chandler’s treatment center ended at a very special Awards Banquet last night.
The banquet hall of the nicest hotel in town was packed, with everyone, including the kids, dressed to the nines. Besides the students, the audience was made up of staff, former staff, alumni of the program, major donors, and the Board of Directors of the 35-year-old treatment center.
There was a long list of awards that took an hour and a half to present, but the most prestigious was the last one — the Most Improved Resident award — the only one to receive a standing ovation, and the recipient of that award was none other than our son, Chandler.
“For a long time before coming to our program, you were lost” the staff member who was introducing Chandler went on, “lost in a world that was hard for you to fully understand, and struggling to make yourself understood to others. Much of our work with you early on was frustrating to you, and you often walked away seemingly annoyed. Your sadness worsened and your isolation increased. There were many times we were worried that we weren’t reaching you and we felt unable to truly speak to you.”
It has indeed been a long 10-month ordeal. As I watched Chandler beaming with pride, I couldn’t help but think of that dreadful night last summer when I watched from afar as my own son was wrenched from our home. The one safe place he could count on was not safe anymore.
“As time went on, your annoyance turned into anger, and your commitment kicked in. You worked with us to make yourself understood, and this distress transformed into a peacefulness we never thought possible. Finally, your true thoughts and feelings started to spill out, and we saw you again confident in your ability to tell us what you needed to. You confronted yourself, your choices and your parents. You told people what you needed, and many times we have been truly blown away by your insight and your awareness.”
Chandler has indeed blown us all away with the work he has accomplished in the last ten months, and you, as our Catch community, have been a big part of this, as you have prayed and cried with us, and watched us all grow stronger by facing into our weaknesses and failures. The theme for the night was fitting: “Sometimes you have to fall first before you can fly.”
“Chandler, your relationship with the Lord has been a guiding light for you. It has strengthened your relationships especially with your father as you both share a strong connection with Him. It has been a boost to your confidence, and it has been a big part of your sobriety. You have prayed for your peers during times of great loss, and you have found great solace in your faith. At the age of 16, your spirituality knows no bounds, and is the force behind the beautiful spirit that so many of us know.”
How can you ask for anything more than that? At the conclusion of the evening, every student came forward and received a plaque, and each name was accompanied by a wish. That alone was enough to break your heart. “Sarah wishes that her family would love her,” or “Josh wishes to be home with his family like it used to be.” That sentiment was repeated many times over, but the most poignant was, “Chandler (another Chandler) wishes he could spend a day … even an hour … with his father.”
I am thrilled to be spending a good part of the next three weeks with our Chandler while he finishes his last two weeks and we drive home together. Who could have predicted this outcome? Who, but the Lord, could have accomplished it?
“Chandler, we’re going to end with a scripture,” the speech concluded. “The scripture is, ‘Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or terrified because of them for the Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you.’ Congratulations and good luck when you go home.”
Please seriously consider clicking here and becoming a MemberPartner of the Catch. As you can see we are a community where life can be faced head-on. We know our failures and our struggles because we go through them together. We pray, we cry, and we grow, and those who are contributing regularly are the ones who are making this all possible, and I also believe they are receiving the most in return because they are involved. We are in this together — all for one and one for all. Won’t you join us? “Sometimes you have to fall first before you can fly.”