'I had soooo much fun last night!'
It was a long wait for a young man to see his favourite band. From the moment Given To Live was able to say yes thanks to the generous fundraising by the Better Than Nothing group until the moment Jake woke up on Sunday was ages.
Waiting for our favourite things can be tricky, even trickier when we're kids. But Sunday did arrive and Jake was going to Metallica! The waiting was over and all the excitement that had been building had a place to go. Soldier Field, Chicago.
Being able to take a whole family to a show to celebrate their son is special and seeing that son, Jake, almost bursting with excitement even more so.
Having a child with special needs is a full time job, popping to the shop means loading up a wheelchair, communicating is a skill of understanding, empathy and deep knowledge.
Music is a great communicator for Jake, like so many of us. And luckily everyone in the family loves Metallica so it was a very shared experience.
Jake arrived with mum and dad, Peggy and Mike, and big brother Cody who dotes on Jake and has been playing guitar for him since Jake was tiny.
Arrived and in we went, the concert gods smiling as Chicago's capricious weather stabilised and stayed warm and dry.
A long wait for Local H to open the Live experience was tricky for Jake. The waiting doesn't make sense, he's there to see Metallica...where are they? Impatience born from not understanding leads to frustration. A snack eases things.
A wondering from everyone if he'll last the day until his band comes on spoken reservedly, fingers crossed, whispered prayers. Answered with music. Live music.
Local H were followed by A7X who Jake also loves. But he's there to see Metallica!
Are you ready for Metallica, Jake? His face explodes with joy, eyes lighting up fiercely...yeaaaaahhhh!!! Metallic, Metallica, Metallica!!! Again and again small eruptions of excitement as that moment gets closer, the months of waiting ebb into minutes, into moments.
A question gets asked, again and again, as Soldier Field fills up...why are there so many people? Thousands become tens of thousands and the answer is Metallica. Everyone is there to see Metallica, Jake. Just like you. Just like you they want to see their favourite band.
The slowly setting sun gives way to Metallica. Jake's Metallic. To joy, to release, to expression. To looks from mum and dad of such joy, such happiness. Their boy having a great time. Their boy laughing, smiling, singing along. Shrieking with delight at favourite songs, beaming brighter than the light show when Master Of Puppets crunches into life...Master, Master, Master...
Jake is his own master now. In a place where it's all joy, all Jake and everything is making sense. Mum and dad beam, the love in their eyes dancing over Jake. Cody laughing, joking, playing with his little brother, proud in a way only eldest siblings can be.
The show ends and Jake is exhausted. Surely about to fall asleep any moment. The kind souls on Metallica's crew find a setlist and pick to top off his day. Surely any moment he'll fall asleep...surely...then the singing starts. Somehow he's wide awake, singing. And laughing.
GTL got a message the following morning that Jake slept well, so well he slept in like never before. At one point waking up to shout...
'I had sooo much fun last night!' then rolling over to fall back asleep. Happy and probably dreaming of Metallica.