The Most Beautiful Ruined Moment

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Dear Master Jedi,
       
       This is an open letter of deep appreciation to you. I hope that somehow it finds its way to your computer screen.

     You are an actor, and a damn funny one to boot. You’re really skilled at working with the unpredictably of kids and turning it into entertainment. I really hope that when you auditioned for and won this gig, that you’ve been as pleased with your job as your audiences have been with your performance. I also hope that this leads to bigger and better things, if that’s what you choose. You’re a supremely decent man and I’m ever in your debt for how you helped me out Tuesday, June 4th at the end of the last show of the day.

You see, during the months of planning for our Disneyworld trip, I found out about the Jedi Training Academy in Hollywood Studios and knew that my little boy would LOVE participating in it. He has been diagnosed with autism, and is typically oblivious to what goes on around him–except for Star Wars. I found an online clip of the Jedi Academy that some parent uploaded and showed him. He was so excited!

“I want to do that! I want to fight Darth Vader!”

He so very seldom really communicates with us that when he does, I move heaven and earth to keep that connection going. He wanted to fight Darth Vader, huh? Then by God, he would.

When we arrived at Hollywood Studios at the ribbon drop, I high-tailed it to sign up for the Jedi Training. There was already a huge line, and I was a little worried that all the spots would fill up before we reached the front of it. I was also concerned because the workers at the front were asking the KIDS questions to ascertain if they can follow instructions. I squatted down and had a little pep talk with my boy.

“Josiah, look at me, please. Look at me. Good. Listen to me. Are your ears on? Good. That lady is going to ask you how old you are. Do you know how old you are? Eight! That’s right! Now, you HAVE  talk to her, OK? I mean it, sweetie. When she talks to you, you talk back, or she won’t let you fight Darth Vader.” He never gave any sign of recognition, but I hoped that he understood. We’ve been working on appropriate conversation skills for months now, and I was counting on that therapy to kick in high gear for him in this moment.

It’s our turn! Here we go.

“Hello and good morning!” Said a bright and cheery Disney cast member to Josiah. (They are ALL bright and cheery.) “Are you ready to battle the Dark Side?”

“Yes.” Josiah mumbled.

Oh my God! He talked to her!

“Good! We need brave Jedis like you. How old are you?”

Josiah hesitated. She asked him again. I was about to answer for him when he said, “I eight.”

Yes!

“Eight. That’s great! Now, can you follow directions?”

Josiah blinked at her.

“If I told you to raise your hands, what would you…Good!”

Josiah had risen his hands up high before she finished her question.

Because of this miracle of a “conversation” we were able to secure two spots for both of our kids in the 8:00 show. (our daughter decided she wanted to be a Jedi too) Perfect! This is going to be something they’ll remember their entire life!

After signing up, we went about our sight-seeing of the park–riding Star Tours 3 times in the process. Before and after each ride or attraction, my son asked, “Am I going to fight Darth Vader now?”
“No.” I’d reply. “After supper. Have you eaten supper yet?”
“Oh. That’s right.” He’d sigh. Then we’d have the same conversation again in about twenty minutes.

The day went on, and a storm blew through. I was glad that our Jedi training was after the big storm. Yay for us, right?

Accordingly, after we ate supper at Hollywood and Vine, I took both of my Padawans by the hand, and led them to the Jedi training to suit up in their robes.

“Now? Is it time to fight Darth Vader now?” He anxiously asked.

“Almost, sweetie. Almost.”

They led the kids to the stage and there we saw you, Mr. Jedi-man. You were funny, entertaining, and great with the kids.

Then, Darth Vader made a wonderfully dramatic entrance!

Omg. Here we go!

I looked at Josiah’s face which was plastered with the biggest grin I’d ever seen.

My face was too.

The assisting Jedi sent kid after kid to center stage to battle the Sith Lord. My daughter, Esther was so cute! She stood so far away from him to “fight.” I laughed and enjoyed watching her.

This is so cute!

Five left…Now four. It began to sprinkle rain.

Three left. Now two. Now….

“We’re sorry ladies and gentlemen. Due to the rain, the Jedi academy is closed.”

Josiah stood there onstage; lightsaber at the ready. He turned and locked his eyes on mine. Then he screwed his face up and cried.

“No! Nooooo! I didn’t get to!”

He ran to me and I held him while he cried.

I’m sure most people would, on observing this, assume he is spoiled. I assure you he isn’t.

This is Autism. He was fixated on something, then didn’t get to do it. The vacation would be ruined for him–and we were only in day two of it. Nothing we do can ever get him back on track once he derails. I began to cry despite myself. This would be all he would remember of his Disney trip.

I locked eyes with you. Do you remember? I was crying like a blubbering dummy.

I motioned for you to come to me. You stood there and looked around for a second. I motioned again. You took a hesitant step my way…then another. We stood face to face in the pouring rain.

“He’s autistic.” I choked out. “This is all he’s talked about all day. Is there anything you can do?”

“Meet me around the side there.” You nobly said. Kudos to staying in character the entire time, by the way.

We made our way around to the side of the stage, amid a sea of parents, kids, and cheery cast members.

There you were, waiting all Jedi-like in an alcove. Waiting for Josiah.

You then made a “Grand presentation” to him and gave him Darth Vader’s lightsaber–autographed by the Dark Lord himself!

Say what!?

Josiah was in awe. You gave him the moon, Mr. Jedi Master. You fixed his day…his entire vacation! You got him back on track.

I couldn’t help but cry, and I’m crying now remembering your generosity of spirit for my little boy. You easily could have thrown your hands up when I motioned for you. You could have pointed to your character handler and shrugged a fake “I’m sorry.” You could have simply ignored me and turned your back.

But you didn’t.

You may not even remember this moment, it was so small for you. I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t fully explain how you…YOU, Jedi Master made a ruined moment beautiful. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart.

We spent the rest of the night jumping in puddles, riding rides, enjoying the nearly empty streets of Hollywood Studios, and watching Fantasmic.

Thank you, again. You will never know how you helped us out. To say that you made our vacation is not an exaggeration.

Most Sincerely and Appreciatively,
Sharon Kay Edwards

About sharonthemezzo

Sharon Edwards, a born performer, hoarder of books, pursuer of the highest callings of humanity, and librarian in training resides in rural Tennessee with her home-brewing husband and two beautiful kids. She can be seen, mostly heard, in various community theater productions.

433 responses to “The Most Beautiful Ruined Moment

  1. Tears~ Love Disney…love this..

  2. I worked at a summer camp for children on the spectrum last summer. Ever since my heart has found unparalleled joy in the victories of children diagnosed with autism. Thank you for this heartfelt read. It reminds me of all my campers.

  3. Pingback: I dare you to read this without crying big nerdy tears | This is why I'm Geeky

  4. Seana

    We have also experienced this mans wonderfulness. This past Christmas our then 9 year old daughter who, while she is not on the spectrum, is very challenging. She saw the ‘training’ earlier in the day and had to do it. We got her signed up and when this man came out she just glowed. I stood in amazement at his talent and kindheartedness. I so hope he knows how much he affects at least some of the children he encounters.

    Signed
    A crying mom

  5. Darlene

    This was the same Jedi master my son had the pleasure to be part of his training group. LOVE, LOVE him. Truly a gifted actor and human! Disney is blessed to have such a wonderful employee! I hope he will be our Jedi master on this years vacation!

  6. Still crying in happiness from the letter and responses. I got this from another Disney blogger so I am glad to see we are all so glad to see the hard work Disney expends for such awesomeness. David Piggott you are my newest idol ..

  7. Thank you for sharing your Son’s story with us ^_^

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  9. What a beautiful moment! Kudos to that wonderful Jedi.

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  13. Josh

    Proud to say this Jedi is my friend, beautiful letter mate.

  14. I have a 50-something brother in law with autism and because of that, I’ve gotten, over the years, to meet a number of people who have children with autism. Kudos to that Jedi Master; I hope Disney rewards him in some way.

  15. Wonderful and heartwarming story! Disney has so many people that go the extra mile to make our vacations memorable. I’m glad David knows how much that moment meant to you and your son.

  16. Viviana Goldenberg

    Beautiful!!!! The Force is strong in this Jedi Master :-)

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  18. Jes

    Reblogged this on Jes Be I and commented:
    This is absolutely beautiful

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  20. I’m tearing up just reading this. Adding to what an earlier reply-poster said, or at least in the same theme, “The force is strong with that one.”

  21. I hope whoever you believe in blesses you, good Sir. You showed compassion and caring that is so rare today.

  22. Sheila

    I was never a big fan of Star Wars, but have enjoyed the movies and music over the years. But this story caught my eye and midway through….I cried. What a wonder story and thanks Mr. Jedi-man for making the moment unforgettable for one little boy – and his family!

  23. Jen

    So amazing. Thank you for reminding me that human beings are kind, compassionate and built to love, not hate.

  24. The most powerful moments are often born from the smallest act of kindness. You invited someone to extend their best self and I am certain your Master Jedi was as much a student of your vulnerability as your son’s joy. Beautiful.

  25. Brenda

    Okay – tissues needed. Thanks for sharing, mom of Jedi Warrior (or whatever that was).

  26. Wastedlight

    Thank you for sharing this story. As an adult with Autism this is especially touching to me. I keep coming back to read it again. I cry every time. I think you are the first person I’ve seen that really understands it and how it affects your son. I was unfortunately not diagnosed early and have stacks and heaps of emotional problems that no one understands. But you knowing that what might be a small thing to most would blossom into a complete meltdown is beautiful. Strangers always thought I was spoiled as a kid because of my frequent meltdowns. I wasn’t. My mom knew there was something wrong but this was the early 80s. Autism wasn’t prevalent and especially not in females. So I was undiagnosed until 35 years old. I have been put through hell and back being diagnosed as schizophrenic at first and then schozoaffective with social phobia and agoraphobia and then finally autism. The correct diagnosis. By the time I was diagnosed properly I had been through 25 different courses of psychiatric medicine that really really messed my head up and that’s an understatement. I still have meltdowns constantly at 36. I had one just yesterday in a crowded movie theater. I was overstimulated by so many people and so much noise. The movie was so loud and that makes me so nervous and stressed. I struggle daily just to stay alive at this point. The depression of not being understood by anyone and being so lonely and broken is almost too much to bear some days. Thank you for being such a wonderful mother. I wish you and your son the very best.

    • Wow. Your story made ME cry!
      In Tennessee, at Vanderbilt, they are constantly doing research and have helpful meetings and workshops for families on the spectrum.
      Maybe there is something like that where you live?

      One of my friends has Aspergers and was diagnosed as a child, but his mom hid the diagnosis and tried to “pray it away.” As a result, he is an adult who has so many social issues due to not understanding what is and isn’t appropriate. He also struggles with identity since his mom never fully accepted him for who he is.
      I find myself “parenting” him and trying to help him understand the world around him.

      I told him about Vanderbilt and how they’re always seeking people for research.

      It may be worth a look for you.

      Sometimes just having a medical contact you can call, who knows your situation can make all the difference.

      My absolute best to you!

      • wastedlight

        Thank you Sharon. I haven’t located anything here in the San Diego area that has been any help to me at all. All I ever find is things for children, everything is for children, no adult help at all. I am not good at advocating for myself. I do see a therapist and a psychiatrist. I am in a special program through Kaiser right now. But my attendance is poor because of my social issues. A lot of times all I can do is communicate through e-mail. Real conversations are much more difficult for me to navigate because they are dynamic and change so often. E-mail is easy because it is a simple back and forth response without all the messiness that confuses me. At this time in my life I don’t know who I am or who I am supposed to be and don’t accept myself and feel completely worthless. I have no identity. I call myself the Nothing and I truly hate every single part of me. I wish every single day that I could be someone else or that nature takes it’s course and removes me from this world. I feel like an alien who doesn’t belong here. I have been mentally abused by others and bullied more times than I can count in my life. To tell you everything I have been through would be too much and I have a hard time staying to the point so I won’t keep rambling on.

        Because of you, and your hard work to understand your son, you are giving him a fighting chance in this crazy world and it’s so wonderful to see. Seeing that gives me hope for other children. I don’t want any of them to end up like me. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

  27. Lordy, that make me bawl.

  28. Stacey

    Disney has a website meant for recognizing the good their “cast members” do. I don’t know what it is but you should look into that and post this there. Great story.

  29. This was a wonderful story, its not the same but I was a very introverted child and have some very fond memories on star tours, I’m glad star wars manages to brighten your sons days up and I’m so glad that that one man managed to save his holiday, the most wonderful moments truly are the ones when the unexpected makes the worst days the best, this story really brightened my day up, thanks for sharing.

  30. Sharon, as the mother of a bright, funny, beautiful 16-year-old Aspie who also has ADHD, your account of Josiah had me crying, too! God bless that Master Jedi, and thanks for sharing this with us parents who understand!

  31. What an amazing series of stories, starting first with the blog post. I am so glad I came over from the link on the Little Pickle Press Facebook page. I will admit that I did not read all 200+ comments, but I read a few that were so heartwarming, as was your story, Sharon.

  32. As someone with an extremely light form of autism, I kind of understand what Josiah and you went through. That Jedi was truly following the Jedi way and I hope the best for him, just like I hope the best for you and your son.

  33. I am sobbing! My son is also on the spectrum, so I identify so clearly with you. That was the most touching story I have read in a long time. And my husband is also in tears after reading it. But good tears.

  34. Pingback: The Most Beautiful Ruined Moment | Tales From The Fifth Tower

  35. THAT guy is a hero. I have tears in my eyes thinking of your panic when they shut down the show and you just knew in your gut how gutted your son would be. Thanks for sharing a story that keeps my faith in humanity higher than most.

  36. Stephen Peters

    This is so great. I do hope this man is recognized by Disney as the treasure he is, and that perhaps your story will help direct them to that fact. I also hope it gives inspiration to others who work in similar capacities; your demeanor does matter, and though the paycheck can be marginal the gift you can give others is often priceless.

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  38. Chad

    Sharon, if you have not heard of this group I implore you to contact them. A family friend has an autistic grandson and it is now unnoticeable in him thanks to this group.

    http://www.brainbalancecenters.com/

  39. So in Star Wars terms…. Your day almost went to the “DARK Side” but “THE FORCE was with you!” :) Great and uplifting story. Thank you. :) -Pam McCormick from http://www.dancinmoma.wordpress.com

  40. This is a great story. It reminds me of one of my favorite moments at the other park in Orlando. I ran across a couple who were obviously distressed and the woman was disabled. They told us how the visited one of the other sister parks and that she was unable to take part in a dolphin swim. I met some of the trainers who are friends of mine and fabricated a story that I knew them and they were given a backstage tour. They were both ecstatic and gushed that they would write a thank you letter for me and guess what…they never did and I did not care. Just making their day was all I needed. I am sure the actor felt the same way. It is moments like that which make your job special.

    Once again…thanks for sharing your experience!

  41. Beautiful! I cried as I read. Disney is amazing and they really do all they can for the kids. When my guy was little (and not talking much at almost 3) we saw the Christmas parade in the Magic Kingdom. As Santa appeared and all the kids were yelling my little guy stared in awe and signed ‘I-love-you.’ Santa looked right at him, smiled and signed back! I cried and cried!! Disney is awesome!

  42. Reblogged this on multicolouredsmartypants and commented:
    Lovely post. Reading this reminded me of the time when I was a single mother and I would take my three children to the local indoor play area because that was the nearest I came to having a break. It also allowed my autistic-with-possible-ADHD son to run and jump and climb as much as he needed.
    Prince was in one of his climbing-the-walls moods. After he’d climbed on top of the netting, tried to break the miniature-toy dispenser, grabbed a child half his size and switched all the lights on and off (twice), I decided it was time to leave. Weary, I rounded up the children, then 9, 6 and 4, and eventually got the two youngest in their coats and shoes. Prince refused to put his shoes on and ran off with them instead. As I was trying to get out the door he trashed all the leaflets on the reception counter – just threw all the neatly arranged piles every which way. When I told him not to do it, he threw his shoes, with a surprising yet deadly accuracy, at the head of the manager. I was mortified.
    I managed to get the children out of the door and into the car (there was a certain mortice-lock arm-hold that I developed so that when I had to I could forcibly remove my child – this was nonetheless difficult with two others).
    Rain pounded the windscreen. The wind was blowing a hooley.
    As I began reversing from the parking space, a woman came running up to my car window. It was the manager. My heart sank. I wound the window down.
    “I’m so sorry.” I said.
    “No! No! Please,” she said, rather breathlessly, “please don’t feel like you can’t come back. Please – you mustn’t feel like you can’t come back!”
    I was so touched. I never will forget. And we did go back.

    • Pammie

      Wow. The beauty of that manager’s heart and perception astounds me!

      Not to take away from any of the beautifulness of the Jedi Master or all of the other kind people remembered in these comments, who have really SEEN what is happening and shown kindness … but how she ran out of the building, into the pouring wind and rain, to chase you down (!), to make ABSOLUTELY SURE you knew you were all welcome to come back, was a decisive act of angelitude. Completely above and beyond simple sensitivity and kindness into another realm.

      I believe SHE deserves a shout-out, much like the Jedi-Master’s!

  43. Pingback: The Most Beautiful Ruined Moment | mkhana in transit

  44. What a beautiful story – The world does have wonderful people in it -

  45. Cutest thing I’ve read in a long time <3

  46. Oh my god reading this made me cry like a baby. My oldest son has learning problems and my youngest has global delay . I understand how for these baby’s they just don’t understand how one thing can change everything. I’m so glad that someone had a heart of gold to realize how such an event can change the whole way that your holiday turns out because what can seem a small event to others is huge to your boy. I’m glad you had good time and what an amazing job your doing raising great kids .

  47. this was a very precious moment! I thought about stopping half way but I was so engrossed in it all. <3 Hop he is doing great, your son!

  48. These are my favorite sorts of stories. I’m glad your kids enjoyed their vacation time.

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