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Destination: Next.

March 9, 2018

(Photo credit: Patricia Fuller)

by Sarena James

I’m here. Don’t really remember the entire drive here though. I do remember setting the Waze map to the destination of this school.

Yes, I’ve been here countless times before, but I knew the relay-race of thoughts in my mind of the unknown might prove hugely distracting from what I knew.

“In two and a quarter miles, make a left turn.”

Grant is going to middle school.

(Deep breath) Middle.

That word in and of itself, means between. Good-bye elementary school where things are simple and cute and mostly forgiving and beautifully nurturing. Hello Middle School, where you should know more and are accountable for more and should be able to prove yourself more. How is he going to make this transition successfully?

Will his new principals, and teachers, and therapists be as willing to help him, see him? Will he easily make new friends, and better yet, will they recognize and respect his efforts? Will his homework be…

“In a quarter mile, left turn.” (Thank you, Waze.)

Grant is not concerned about any of this. He is super excited. Super ready. Super embracing of a new schedule, new faces, new lockers. Wait, lockers?

“Make a right. Your destination is ahead.” (Again, thank you Waze.)

The first person we see in the gym is the principal. Grant cheerfully spoke to him. I spoke to myself.

“Sarena, how did Grant know who the principal was? Did you tell him?”

“No. He spent nearly an hour on Google, trying to find out everything he could about this school. He did that.”


Grant spoke to teachers and other members of the faculty he met when his elementary school took a visit here. He did that.

“Hi!” “Hi!” “Hi!” Grant started speaking to parents and friends he knows from the various schools and programs he’s been involved with. He did that. Thinking now about the Waze map. From the beginning of any given journey the destination is set. No matter what road I take, the planned or unexpected detours, be they scenic or riddled with potholes, the destination never changes. I’ve always wanted Grant to be as successful as he can be. That destination has never changed, even when the roads we’ve taken, have.

Grant is sitting next to me on these bleachers smiling away. His destination has always been set to “Next.” He’s always readied himself for new experiences, from surfing, to riding horses, to conquering his fear of rain. Always, “Next.” You see time has a certain way of moving forward, even when you’re comfortable and cozy and completely satisfied to stay where you are. But “Next” awaits. “Next” is necessary. It’s inevitable.

We’re getting ready to take a new road on the way to the same destination we’ve always had. Destination: Grant will be successful. Grant will be independent. Grant will make remarkable strides. Grant will continue to beat the odds and redo statistics and excel beyond.


That Grant would always move to the level called “Next.” God, your life GPS is better than anything my heart has access to. I believe Grant’s destination is already set…🙏🏾

One Comment leave one →
  1. Maureen McManus permalink
    June 5, 2018 2:56 pm


    I’m not sure if you remember me, but I worked with Grant the summer of 2012 through Carolina Autism. I just found your blog again, and this photo and Grant’s smile just brought the biggest smile to my face! Cannot believe how grown up he is! Your words are beautiful, and I am so proud of how far he has come! Hope you, Raphael, and the girls are doing well, too!

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