Autism Treatment Center of America®

Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues

Chapter 6 Part IV

Midnight. The telephone rang incessantly. A voice pierced through years of silence; our friends from California would be coming through New York in less than two days and wanted to be with us - to lift the curtain of time and renew a long and oftentimes intense relationship. We welcomed it.

Two days later, a huge, sleek, twenty-eight-foot motor home rolled into our driveway. The sound of its horn bellowed like the baritone growl of an old Santa Fe diesel whipping across an opened railroad crossing. As Bryn and Thea came charging out the front door, with Samahria and me right behind them, my friend Jesse appeared in its doorway, mellow and tired as our arms interlocked. Our usual robust bear hug softened with the mood. Jesse's wife, Suzi, jumped from the truck into Samahria's arms. The distance and time that had separated us disappeared for these frozen moments. Then Samahria turned to the parked dinosaur, grabbing our friends' children into her arms and hugging her first hello. Strange to be meeting them now for the very first time. Julie, sensitive and intense, with her piercing eyes - very outspoken at seven. Cheyenne, only four, but already a stage-stealing comic with red curly hair and baggy Chaplinesque pants. These cute little people met our cute little people, dancing their hellos and skipping their excitement into the house.

We stood with Jesse and Suzi under the clear sky, smiling at one another, touching through our eyes. I struggled to recapture the old closeness but still tasted the distance. Jesse seemed slightly removed behind a haze of hard work. Once the lead singer and writer for a rock group called the Youngbloods, he toured now on his own as Jesse Colin Young. He had come to New York to give three evening performances at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.

The four of us talked and reviewed our lives, exchanging the highlights and most dramatic experiences of recent years. Jesse and I reminisced about sitting on a bathroom floor in a dormitory at Ohio State in the middle of the night, writing songs, drinking watered-down beer and singing in harmony as the Midwest slept. He played his guitar while I wrote down lyrics on my writing pad. In the brotherhood of those years, we created a deep and abiding friendship.

Jesse recalled our motorcycle escapades in Pennsylvania while I still attended college. We spent weekends together, riding side by side along the Delaware River. Samahria hugged me from behind as we cruised along country roads on our beautiful and dignified BMW. Sometimes, Jesse and I would steer our bikes across meadows and then through endless rows of cornfields. The four of us would picnic on mountain slopes, consuming wine, cheese, bread, and the summer sun. Years later, we traded in our bikes for apartments in the city and drank espresso in Cafe Figaro, where Kerouac and Ginsberg had been only a decade before. When Jesse played at Folk City, Samahria and I sat in the audience and cheered his developing talent. Then, late at night we would all walk over to Chinatown or the East Village, making lower Manhattan our personal neighborhood.

After both Samahria and Suzi fell asleep, I shared with Jesse how I had reached for the stars with a series of short stories, two plays, and a file cabinet filled with poetry. A mountain of rejection slips decorated my desk as Samahria played breadwinner during the early years of our marriage. The completion of a first novel and the on-again, off-again production of one of my plays, which never made it to the stage, became my last hurrah. I abandoned writing, turning my energy toward the more commercial world of motion pictures and marketing. Graduate school and evening seminars as well as weekend workshops in philosophy, psychology, religion, and personal growth became part of my evolving life-style.

In recounting the specific events with our Raun, I felt filled with gratitude. Jesse laughed, saying the situation with our son scared him; however, he felt his mental circuits blown by our enthusiasm and our excitement about our family circumstance.

For the six days Jesse and Suzi stayed with us, we easily integrated them into our lives and our home. Each morning, Samahria worked her normal schedule with Raun as Suzi joined to experience our enigmatic son and help him. The other children played like fast friends. Our evening conversations ebbed and flowed as we sipped wine and discussed the impact of our beliefs and attitudes on our lives.

Jesse and I reached for each other, searching to pick up the thread. The years had taken a certain toll, yet we each felt richer in our lives than ever before. I spoke of my fantasy of creating a mountaintop retreat in New England where we could share with others and start a special community based on a common vision and common pursuit. We played out our dreams, enjoying sharing our fantasies with each other.

Opening night at the Nassau Coliseum, we saw endless lines of cars creeping into huge parking lots as we sped swiftly through a special back entrance accessible only to the performers. All eight of us packed into our jeep.

No seats had been made available for us. Instead, we were to take the children and sit on stage with the performers. A packed theater-in-the-round with fifteen thousand in attendance. A hush blanketed the huge crowd as Bill Graham jumped on the stage. Memories of Fillmore East. He made an announcement, then introduced Jesse. Wild applause came from every direction. The deafening roar subsided as the crowd's attention focused on the entertainers, energizing them.

And then it began. The music ripped through the speakers, almost throwing us off the side of the stage. Not just a concert, an experience.

When Jesse sang "Get Together," a song that had become an anthem for the turbulent late sixties, the audience jumped to their feet and cheered. When he sang 'Starlight' they lit candles throughout the stadium. We would come back the next evening and the next. Each time we brought Bryn and Thea to share the magic of this floodlight world - its beauty and its special brand of community. All of it unforgettable. I couldn't help thinking that maybe one day Raun could join us for such outings. Maybe one day he, too, would understand and appreciate such a musical celebration.

The Youngs stayed one final day after their last performance before going south with their tour. When they left, we expressed our gratitude for their love and for the fanfare of their visit. We appreciated the momentary diversion from Raun's silence and for the new experiences offered the girls. The opportunities to rekindle good feelings with old friends and to explore the changing tides of our lives had invigorated us.

End of Chapter 6

Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues