Friday, October 23, 2015

Autism Answer: I'm Not Afraid Of Kevin Reese (The Ghost At My Door)

Author's Note: In celebration of Halloween I thought it would be fun to share this true ghost story and what I learned from my long ago ghostly midnight visitor. Happy Halloween friends!
I was twelve years old, asleep in my basement bedroom. I loved it down there because as the helpful oldest daughter in a family of eight, I had been offered the basement bedroom as proof of my maturity. Everyone else slept upstairs while I had freedom and privacy alone beneath them. However, on this particular autumn night I was unexpectedly wide awake. It was barely past midnight and I had a feeling I'd heard the doorbell ring. I wasn't afraid. I knew my strong, protective step-dad would take care of the midnight visitor appropriately. But lying there I didn't hear the familiar movement of family above. Strange. And then again, I heard the doorbell ring. 

I'm not a brave person, and I'm not a strongly intuitive person, but that night somehow I knew the visitor wanted to see me and that I had no reason to be afraid. Quietly I tip toed barefoot out of my room and up the wooden steps which led to the front door of our home.

I'll admit, I looked around uncomfortably for a moment. Not afraid so much as aware of the strangeness in the situation. I stood alone on the landing, breathing the cool air and listening for sounds of family, and for any sounds from outside of the door. When I heard nothing I raised my twelve year old self up on my toes to peek out of the peep hole. Who I saw standing there didn't make any sense. 

Kevin Reese was in juvenile prison. Also, he and I weren't really friends; we'd only had that one night several months before chatting on the swing-set at our local park. Sure, we'd really connected and talked openly about deep, important and intimate things. Sure, it felt different and dangerous. Back home my best friend was phoning my mom and pleading with her to save me from the bad boy, Kevin Reese. But he wasn't bad. He was scared and defensive. He was new to our school and, his reputation preceding him, pushing boundaries and people smaller than him in order to not disappoint us, mimicking the pushing he received at home. After that night on the swings he didn't change, and we didn't then hang out or anything, but I wasn't afraid of him and he was respectful of me. Now, though, he was in juvenile prison. So how could he also be looking at me, relaxed and almost relieved, through my peephole? 

I didn't answer the door. Somehow, I knew he didn't need me to. His look, even with the weird warping of the peephole, told me what he'd come to say. I ventured back down to my room and fell quickly to sleep. 

The next morning at school was pandemonium. Whispers and gossip and tears. A car full of teenagers had escaped the juvenile prison the morning before, had been involved in a high speed car chase and crashed. Everyone, including Kevin Reese, had died. 

Everyone, including Kevin Reese.

I was in a state of shock, not unlike my peers. Making my way down the halls of our high school, one of Kevin's friends--a girl who had her own bad girl reputation--motioned to me, inviting me to follow her into the girl’s bathroom.

We found ourselves alone in a stall. I noticed that, despite her acne and scowl, she was extremely pretty. I found myself comparing our similar underneath-it-all physical appearance. "Kevin talked about you often, you know," she was telling me with uncharacteristic softness. "You didn't judge him, you didn't point and talk about him, and you weren't afraid of him. Actually," she added, "I was sometimes jealous because he'd say you were the only person who really understood him." I was nodding quietly, confused and honored and lost in questions. I mumbled my appreciation to her, knowing that it was a risk for her to be seen talking sweetly to me, indeed to be seen talking sweetly at all. I wasn't the only one who went out of my way to get to know people drastically different than me.

Kevin Reese had come to my house that night, a ghost that was relaxed and relieved. I believe he wanted me to know, went out of his way to let me know, that he was okay. I didn't waste much time grieving the life he lived, instead I wondered often about the value of authentic kindnesses shared with strangers and silent friends. Kevin Reese claimed that I had given him a gift the night we hung out on the swings at the park, but he and his pretty friend had given me a much bigger gift by going out of their way to see me. Even when it was dangerous or impossible. Even when Kevin was dead.

I have been both the giver and the receiver of similar such authentic and random kindnesses over the years. It's been both life changing and easy. 

It's been easy,
because I'm not afraid of Kevin Reese. 

At The Window by Shay Shelton

Author's Second Note: I truly hope you enjoyed my ghostly true tale! I do, of course, realize that my story is lacking in specific Halloween and Autism or Parenting tips. Not to worry! My mom, international expert Lynette Louise aka The Brain Broad, has this for you, HALLOWEEN: The Holiday Made For Autism (With These Important Tips). Also, a few years ago I had the honor of sharing my tips for enjoying Halloween while spending little to no money. Feel free to check that out HERE. 

Hugs, smiles, and..... BOO! Gotacha!