A Blue Ribbon

(Nathan & I. 2011)

(Nathan & I. 2011)

My cousin Nathan came to visit today. He’s a good kid. Although, I’m sure being called “a good kid” isn’t his favorite compliment. I mean what fifteen year old wants to be called a “kid” anyway? But it is nonetheless the truth. Nathan is a good kid.

Last month he texted me during the day. He wanted to tell me a story and ask me a question. His side of the conversation went a little bit like this:

“Today at school we had an assembly. It was about making a difference. At the end of the presentation they handed out blue ribbons and asked us to give them to someone in our lives who we think has made a difference. At first I wasn’t sure who I was going to give my ribbon to until I looked at the homescreen on my phone and saw my picture of Mia. Then I realized I wanted to give my ribbon to her.”

I have to admit that at the time I was deeply touched, but more so, shocked.

Why Mia? What has she done to deserve such a prize? I know she has changed my perspective deeply, but is that not to be expected? I am her mother after all.

Nevertheless, I told Nathan he was more than welcome to give it to Mia; although I wasn’t sure she would be able to grasp the significance of such a special award. I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to grasp or understand the love behind such a meaningful gesture. So, I did what I had to and I told him as much – I wanted to prepare him for an unenthusiastic reception. I wanted to prepare him for Mia. I knew there would be no excited response on her part. So, I told him that even if Mia didn’t cherish it at the moment that she would someday and I would hold on to it (and cherish it for her) until such a time came that she could.

Today when Nathan came to visit he brought with him a small blue ribbon with the words “Who I Am Makes A Difference” embossed on the front in gold lettering. He also brought one other special gift; a photo frame holding a picture of the two of them, smiling ear to ear.

(Nate & Mia are old friends. 2006)

(Nate & Mia are old friends. 2006)

Mia receiving a ribbon with those words inscribed on it meant a lot. You see, Mia has never even received a ribbon for participation in any sort of sport because, sadly, Mia is not part of any functional team. No team wants to include her, and that is the sad truth. She is not perceived by most to be worthy. She does not receive ribbons for being top reader or even one for honorable mention in the elementary school’s CARES program. Mia was ribbon-less.

And now she is not.

But even more than that, I realized tonight while holding in my hand this thin piece of blue fabric that maybe Mia is special in more than the obvious way. Maybe Mia has touched the lives of more people than I realize. Maybe her honest and joyful approach to life is inspiring to more than just me. Maybe, Mia being Mia is enough for others too.

Maybe, Mia will go on to touch the lives of many more people.

I hadn’t realized on the phone what that little ribbon represented to me. And until I saw it I hadn’t realized how special of a gesture it was. Or, how vital those words written on the front of the ribbon would be to my perception of Mia’s ability to touch others. Those words changed my outlook and nourished my soul – “who I am makes a difference.” That ribbon was just as much a gift to me as it was to Mia.

So tonight, while Mia looked excitedly on, we hung on the wall in her room the image of a little girl and a young man. The little girl in the picture has changed my life with her quiet and simple loving ways, while the young man has helped me to realize the little girl’s worth to others, her worth to the world. And hanging alongside this picture is a small and seemingly insignificant piece of fabric that started it all. On this piece of fabric the words ring out loud and true “Who I Am Makes A Difference”.

Yes, Mia, you do; to me and, finally, to others.

(Mia's Ribbon and Special Gift.)

(Mia’s Ribbon and Special Gift.)


3 thoughts on “A Blue Ribbon

  1. I cried from beginning till the end!And even now as I type, Mia has and will be a blue ribbon winner to all that know her and will ever meet her.But a ‘BIG’ thank you to Nate for being the kind and smart young man that he is to step forward and give her such a great honor!!Once again your writing make me smile , laugh and think about all the simple things in life that people take for granted , like a ribbon.

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