We have a friend named Rachel. She's in her 20s, and adorably cute--I used the word "mousy" once as a compliment, and thankfully, she took it as just that. She's been married to her soulmate boo Brett for many months, and The Lovely Steph Leann and I really enjoy her company when she's in town.
A few weeks ago, she was in fact in town, working on a local conference, and let us know where she'd be. Obviously, we made plans for dinner, and while The Lovely Steph Leann couldn't make it, our friends McQ and her new hubby JP came, as did our friend Amy McL... we agreed to all meet up with Rachel at the brand new Newk's eatery that had opened the week prior.
And it was a grand time, with laughter and love, fellowship and friendship, with old friends like Mc!, Amy McL and myself sharing tales of many days before, while new friends like JP listened intently and chimed in, and Rachel shared her own stories of her job and her new married life.
I had Campbell Isaiah with me as well, and Rachel and Campbell have formed a friendship... well, sort of. When she stayed at our house a few months back (on the eve of McQ's and JP's wedding, no less), Campbell took to Rachel immediately. While she tried to work on a project on our dining room table, he kept coming up to her, interrupting her with his cuteness. She would hug him, or play with him, or show him a little love, then turn back to her project... and then a few minutes later, here he comes bounding up again. The Lovely Steph Leann would call for him to step back, to let her work and to quit bothering her, but Rachel insisted it was no bother--and I believed her.
She and Brett have no children of their own, and will probably "be married" for a while before they do, but more than once she's told me that she wants a baby sooner than later. So the notion of Campbell coming up and showing her attention is just a little slice of paradise here on Earth for Rachel Mayo.
Granted, Campbell does do this kind of interaction with a few other people--but it is only a few people. He's not shy, but he doesn't just love on just anyone. Don't know his criteria yet, but Rachel meets it.
I can't tell for sure, but when he saw her again a few weeks back, I'd like to think he remembered her, and in fact did give her a little Campbell Kiss (which is, take the pacifier out, lean over, plant his lips somewhere on your face--usually your lips, but it can be your cheek, nose, chin or elsewhere--put the paci back in and turn away like "that's all you get, so enjoy it"). Usually I have to say "Campbell, give ____ a kiss" for him to do it--with Rachel, he did it on his own.
So it's easy to say out of the hundreds of people I've become friends with through social media networks, Rachel is someone who has connected with our family more than most. Yes, we met Rachel through Facebook... and it's hard to explain, so I just won't try right now.
Campbell is a very sensory oriented child. He knows how to work a cell phone like crazy, as he flips through apps and can take pictures (not very good ones, but on par with some that are on Facebook pages belonging to the 19 year old who bought an expensive DLR camera and decided to come up with a catchy name for their newly opened photography business, despite not even knowing what DLR stands for--can you tell I find this to be extremely funny?) and he loves the stocks applications, where he watch the lines up and down, and things refresh.
Currently, he has an iPhone 3 to call his own, though it's a little older and worn, and it's battery dies down fast from the three or four straight hours of use he gives it at one time.
The crown jewel of gifts for Campbell would be an iPad. He is in therapy at a local place here in town, and they use iPads during their sessions to teach various things. While the iPhone becomes like a babysitter sometimes for Campbell, an iPad would be an invaluable learning tool, once we get the right apps on it.
But they are expensive, which is why we haven't gotten him one yet.
So imagine my surprise when Rachel did.
At the end of dinner, Rachel pulls out a bag and says, "This is for Campbell's birthday! Happy birthday Campbell!" I smiled, thinking a book or a toy of some sort, and appreciative of Rachel's thoughtfulness. I debated about whether to open it there or wait til later, but decided to open it there--I pulled out the green tissue paper, and grasped something that felt firm like a large book, but cold to the touch.
I pulled it out, pulled back the tissue and there was a silver iPad in my hands. I looked at it, and looked at Rachel, back to the iPad and back to Rachel. I simply said, "This is an iPad? Rachel... I mean..."
She smiled and quickly explained that they had gotten new versions, and she wasn't sure what to do with that one. She apologized for it having her name on the back, said that she knew it would help Campbell to have one, and then added for good measure, "I wouldn't want anyone else but Campbell to have it."
For one of the few times in my life, I was rendered nearly speechless. I stammered a few words of something, then wiped a couple of tears away noticed how badly my allergies were acting up, and how much dust was in the restaurant.
She got our son an iPad. It was as good as brand new, it's in nearly flawless condition and it looks amazing. A little boy who she only knows from pictures on Facebook, from the stories I briefly tell on social media and on this blog, she has taken to her own heart to love, and to encourage and love on myself and The Lovely Steph Leann...
...who, by the way, had much the same reaction when she opened the bag at home. She was nearly floored too, and was nearly speechless as well.
By the way, we haven't given it to him yet. Two things we are waiting on--first, to get a cover for it. No parent gives their children any sort of electronic anything without some sort of protective casing to go on it. Second, we are waiting to talk to his therapy teachers to find out the best way for Campbell to use it. Like I said, the iPhone is really for play, so we want the iPad to serve a real purpose.
And no, I haven't used it for my own benefit. Not saying I won't watch a movie with it or something in the future, but it is in fact Campbell's iPad, and even is now labeled that once you plug it into iTunes.
Anyway... thank you, Rachel. You are beautiful and wonderful, and we love you greatly. We hope you have an incredibly awesome Christmas, take care of that man of yours, and you'll always have a place to stay when you come to town. And a little boy who will greet you with a hug and kiss.
Find Rachel's Etsy shop, Rachel B Designs, by clicking here.
You can find her on Twitter @rachelcmayo and on Instagram @rachelbodinemayo