A Picture Tells the Story, Doesn’t It?

Does a picture really say a thousand words? There is so much more to our story.

It was the 4th of July. We were excited for fireworks,  family,  neighborhood fun.

We planned ahead.  Casadee has a friend sleeping over. I got them matching 4th of July outfits including accessories. Flag shirts, red white and blue necklaces, bracelets, patriotic tattoos, Stars and Stripes sunglasses, headbands.

So hopeful.

The neighborhood is throwing a block party. Waterslide, bounce house, face paint, games, raffles and food truck. The whole neighborhood turned out it seems. Kids running, laughing, neighbors reconnecting.  

Everyone is happy.

So much red white and blue color everywhere.

A neighbor stops by to visit with her friend from the north. She always watches Casadee when I have to step out and Casadee loves her so much.

We take pictures to capture the memory.

But does it?

We are looking forward to the fireworks show tonight only a walk away, across the pond. Our own private neighborhood show.  Our family is here, the kids are swimming in the pool.

Everyone excited for tonight.

Finally, it’s time. We walk to the show and set up our blanket and chairs in the grass. The fireworks don’t disappoint, they are amazing! The music and the sounds. So many fireworks bursting overhead. So close, so spectacular.

Everyone is cheering, totally worth the wait.

We walk back home, talking about which ones were the best, the brightest. I think about how precious these moments are, spent with the ones we love most.

Is it all just a facade? The picture told the story,  didn’t it?

She was dressed up. She looked excited! I allow myself to dream that she is there for it all.

But she wasn’t. She couldn’t be.

We did plan ahead. We did buy the outfits and pick up the friend. That’s where the real story starts.

I had to shop by myself and pick up her friend alone because her anxiety won’t allow her to go. It’s too much.

When we got back to the house, she was happy to see her friend for 5 min and then she wanted me to take her upstairs, away from her room. She wanted alone time. She always wants alone time these days.

The block party was starting, we all got dressed in our patriotic outfits. She didn’t want to go, she didn’t want to change out of her daily outfit of pink shirt and star pants. She definitely wasn’t going to the block party, too many people. She couldn’t feel safe.

She went to her room, we went without her.  

The neighbor did come to visit with her friend. She convinced Casadee to put her outfit on, just for a minute,  just for a picture.

The moment was captured that told a different story. The one we wished could be.

Casadee was over it by the 4th picture. She was done. Outfit came off, pink shirt back on. Back to her room. Family came and the kids went in the pool.

Everyone but Casadee.

She stayed in her room. Her safe place.

Nighttime arrived and we did walk down for the fireworks show, without Casadee. Without my husband who volunteered to stay with her.

One of us always has to sacrifice, we try to take turns.

The fireworks really were spectacular. The walk home a time to reflect on the memories made.

Without Casadee. Another memory without her.

They are becoming more and more. The sacrifices we make to ensure she is ok on the inside, that she feels safe affects all of us.

We try not to dream of what could have been.

Our story is different, not less than. Just like her.

Our story has made us depend on each other. Appreciate each other.  We miss her when she’s not there. We also understand why she can’t be and why most times it’s better for everyone if she’s not.

That’s an honesty our family understands clearly but we don’t share.

Not everyone will understand.

They see the pictures and imagine a different story.

How lovely it was for all of us.

It was, just not the way the pictures say it was. 

Written by, Tammy Twenhofel

My daughter Casadee is 17 with a diagnosis of Autism and Mitochondrial Disorder. This journey makes me a better person every single day and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Interested in writing for Finding Cooper’s Voice? LEARN MORE

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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