An Unexpected Friend

October 29, 2012
By , Huntingdon Valley, PA
The first time I met Kate, she kicked and screamed.
The second time we hung out, she cried and called me names.
You may wonder why I came back...
But I did.
Now, countless visits later, Kate and I have finally found a common language.

You see, Kate has Asperger's. It's harder for her to interact with other kids, and she is often dumbstruck in social situations. Sometimes, she throws temper tantrums until she gets her way, or she isolates herself completely. Hungry for volunteer hours, I snatched the opportunity to work with Kate. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. In the beginning, Kate didn't understand my sincerity or why a stranger had entered her house. Sometimes she threw tantrums, fought with family members, or threw toys. But slowly, we made progress.

After a while, Kate's frustrations turned to warm welcomes. As the spring turned to summer, Kate's trust strengthened, and we began doing more. More than just board games. More than just watching T.V. Finally comfortable, Kate was able to be creative.

And then a strange thing happened. Exhausted and drained one day, I realized that I was gaining far more than volunteer hours. Through my bond with Kate, I was learning the importance of my friendship and trust. Kate's reliance on me every week showed the value put on responsibility, and how I could truly matter to a human being. As Kate progressed, her newfound abilities inspired me to keep working harder in my own pursuits. Kate's resilience and dedication were heroic- things that I wished to exemplify in my own life.

Eventually, I racked up all the service hours I needed. Yet, I couldn't bear to say goodbye to Kate. She's my friend. And friends don't just leave.

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