Making Memories With My Angel Was Worth Every Stressful Minute

A columnist overcomes a crisis to attend a concert with her daughter

Sabrina L. Johnson avatar

by Sabrina L. Johnson |

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It’s easy to give up when plans don’t go as imagined. Quitting is a lot easier than pressing on during a challenging moment. Because I persevered through a little hiccup this past week, I got to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience with my 12-year-old Angel, Juliana.

I heard an announcement on the radio this summer that “The Polar Express” was being performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. I set a reminder on my phone to follow up later for tickets. Notes have become my go-to for most of my planning and goal setting. Since Juliana and I are the music lovers in our house, it seemed like the perfect outing for just the two of us.

Juliana’s class did a “Polar Express” theme some years ago, so I figured this would also pique her interest. When my reminder popped up, I bought two tickets for us to attend the symphony. The night I purchased our tickets is still a complete blur. It was over two months ago. I simply remember a long, tiring day. 

Two teachers stand with two young girls in a school hallway. Above them hangs a large, light blue banner that reads "Welcome to the Polar Express" in white and is surrounded by snowflakes. In the background are Christmas lights and other decorations.

Juliana, center, with her former teachers and classmate after enjoying a “Polar Express”-themed celebration. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

Nevertheless, I made the purchase and managed to get the last two seats in the accessible section. I wanted the performance to be enjoyable on every front. Although balcony seating offers a great view, I didn’t want to have any stairs in Juliana’s path.

This past Sunday, concert day finally arrived. I went to link my digital tickets, but I couldn’t find them. The performance was at 3 p.m., and as the minutes ticked away, my stress mounted. Sunday is always a full day as I prepare for the week ahead. My plan was to spend the morning getting dinner and lunches ready.

Unfortunately, I spent most of the morning trying to locate my lost tickets. I thought about throwing in the towel and just staying home. I felt panicked as I searched for the tickets while also trying to make lunch, plan for dinner, and get Juliana’s backpack ready for Monday. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to give up. I wanted to see Juliana dance in her chair as the orchestra made its beautiful music.

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The show must go on

As my husband saw my panic swell, he stepped in to help.

“What can I do?” he asked.

“See if you can find the tickets,” I answered, deflated.

My husband was patient and calm, as he often is. Eventually, he got someone on the phone and we were able to link my tickets. In my haze of ordering them, I put the incorrect email into the system.

Within minutes, my crisis was over, and I rushed to get myself and Juliana dressed to head out. Although this little emergency was not medical- or behavior-related, it was still taxing. There are so many balls to juggle as a caregiver. Little missteps often feel like mountains. It would’ve made sense to abandon my plans and stay home.

But I wanted to do something grand and special for Juliana. This outing would be her first concert, and I didn’t want to miss it. Do-overs are often our backup when things go wrong. There couldn’t be a do-over for this sold-out event.

In the end, all the stress that I endured on Sunday was worth it. Juliana watched the movie as the orchestra performed in the background. She danced in her seat and mimicked some of the noises. Often, she squealed and laughed with delight. During intermission, she was calm and happy. There were no meltdowns on this day.

Instead, it was a magical kickoff to our holiday and a perfect date with my Angel.

A woman and her daughter smile for a selfie in front of a poster for "The Polar Express" at the Atlanta Symphony Hall. The girl, who has Angelman syndrome, is wearing a gray sweater, glasses, and a blue and red bow in her hair. The woman is wearing a pink shirt and gray cardigan.

Juliana with her mom during intermission at “The Polar Express” symphony. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

Note: Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angelman Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Angelman syndrome.


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