"Our Little Trooper"

"Our Little Trooper"
"Let me live, that I may praise you!" Psalm 119:175

Friday, May 29, 2015

He makes me feel like a normal kid...they all do.

Rowan has been involved in musical theater since he was 3 years old, because his sister Zoe attended North East School of the Arts. He had the opportunity to play young characters at NESA in shows such as Caucasian Chalk Circle, Les Mis, and MidSummer Night's Dream.

After Zoe graduated, I knew I had to find something for Rowan to do so he could continue acting. With all of Rowan's health issues, he doesn't attend school, so I couldn't just sign him up for school plays. Chris Rodriguez was at Rowan's final Midsummer performance at NESA and told me I could bring him to Woodlawn. That was one of the best decisions I ever made for Rowan.  Rowan has now been in four productions in Mr. Chris's Youth Program.  Honk Jr., Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr., Aladdin Jr., and now Shrek Jr.

It isn't always easy. We live almost an hour away, and Rowan has 9 hour infusion clinic appointments every Tuesday before he heads over to Woodlawn. It's a lot for one day, but Rowan only misses play practice if he gets admitted into the hospital overnight. During Honk Jr. rehearsals, Rowan came to practice the same day he had bone marrow biopsies taken from his hip. He sat in his medical chair, sang along, and watched the choreography.  In his mind, it is never an option for him to miss play practice. He once went in the hospital for several days, passed two kidney stones, and told the doctor "I have to get out by Saturday because Thoroughly Modern Millie dress rehearsals start".  At NESA, he had a shunt malfunction, was admitted into ICU, had his head shaved, underwent shunt revision surgery, got discharged, and performed on stage the next day! He is the living embodiment of the saying, "The show must go on."

After this week's final Shrek Jr. show, some of the leads spoke onstage at the end of the show, expressing their gratitude to Mr. Chris, Alonso, Katie, Amanda & Aaron. When we got home that night and I was giving Rowan a bath, he said "Mom, I thought maybe I was going to get to talk at the end of the show too, so I started preparing my speech to Mr. Chris in my head." I thought that was so adorable, so I asked him what his speech would've been. He said that he wanted to tell Mr. Chris:  "Thank you Mr. Chris, you changed my life." I asked him how, and he said, "He makes me feel like a normal kid. Well, it's weird. See, he knows I'm different, and he makes me feel special, but he still treats me like a normal kid too. And he lets me go there and make friends, like most kids do at school, so they all make me feel normal too. He helps me do one of the only things in my life that isn't medical.  If I didn't have Mr. Chris, or my friends at Woodlawn, my life would suck." It brought tears to my eyes, and I wanted to make sure Rowan eventually did get to give that speech to Mr. Chris, but Rowan went in the hospital the very next morning, for intestinal surgery. So, I decided to do this post to make sure Chris Rodriguez, the staff at Woodlawn Theater, and all of his fellow cast mates, would know how much they mean to Rowan, and how much they make his life better.


Tuesday night was so special for Rowan, especially in light of what he had coming up the next morning.  Here is a picture of Rowan, just moments before going back for surgery Wednesday.   Look at the smile on his face.  The staff and kids at Woodlawn, helped put that smile there.

Now, here is a picture of him just after surgery.  It was obviously a pretty big deal, and he was certainly going to be experiencing a lot of pain when he woke up.

But this is how he woke up...

And the day after surgery, I started reading all of the cards to him and his smile got even bigger, and he said he felt like crying happy tears.  He even got out of bed and walked around the nurses desk twice, they lifted his spirits so much.

The following are just a few pictures of some of the cards Rowan's cast mates and teachers gave him at that last Shrek Jr. show, to wish him well while he is in the hospital this week. He and I were blown away. He received nearly 50 cards! Most of them hand made personal creations, all of them beautiful and inspiring.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, for making Rowan feel both normal and special, and definitely stronger and happier before his 74th and 75th surgeries this week. You all made this little Peter Pan, never want to grow up...because he is happy right where he is:)

Thanks Mr. Chris, for changing Rowan's life...for the better!