Once upon a time, there lived a woman named Sadie. Sadie worked as a Direct Support Professional. She had this one client. His name was Brendan. Brendan had Down Syndrome. Brendan did not use verbal language to speak, but Sadie learned early on, the Brendan still speaks.

As a matter of fact, looking back at the past 5 years she spent as his community companion, Sadie came to realize that it was with her sweet client and dear friend Brendan, that Sadie experienced the best conversations. Sadie learned through working with Brendan, that it takes more than just audible words to have a wonderful meaningful conversation.

It takes mutual respect, admiration, thoughtfulness, kindness, compassion, love, the ability to not just hear a person but to really listen, not just see a person, but really see them. Thanks be to God; Brendan had that ability. It was a real gift. A quite beautiful one to have been blessed with.

The conversations Sadie had with Brendan every time they met, and often over hot cocoa has healed Sadie in ways that she cannot put in words. This good soul saw her. How kind. Sometimes, she feels she should ought to be the one paying for his company and support, instead of the other way around.

One December evening, Brendan had an exercise class at the local recreation center in town. The two were an hour early for the class. So, Sadie suggested that the dynamic duo should take a nice stroll around the town green and admire the lit Christmas tree.

The two friends stopped at the local cafe to pick up some of their favorite yummy premium hot cocoa, and off they went for their walk around the town festive decorated green. The town green was like one big giant square. You passed, a big Catholic Church, a town library, some small little shops, a Protestant Church, a real estate office, a general store that a fine tea shop, and a fine dining restaurant. It was quite the lovely town square.

After they made their way around the green and was back at the beginning of Church Street, they both rested for a bit on a little wooden bench. While they sipped the rest of their hot cocoa, Brendan was able to notice deep seated pain and worry in Sadie's eyes, as she sat by her client on that bench.

As a result of his friend's apparent pain, Brendan's face went from his usual smiley self to a deep concern look for his dear friend. He did not just see her; he really saw her. He rested his hand on her shoulder, smiled at her, and looked into her eyes with such compassion. Sadie can tell that if Brendan could talk, he would say, " Do not worry, HE got you."

Such a peace washed over Sadie. She felt as though Jesus was right there in their midst. It was like Jesus allowed Brendan to see what He sees, and used Brendan as an instrument to comfort her, in ways that HE, meaning God, knew Sadie needed to be comforted. In all the conversations Sadie every had over hot cocoa or any warm drink, the best was right here right here, right now, with her nonverbal friend.

Although nonverbal, his eyes, his gestures, his body language spoke volumes. It brought more comfort and peace, and hope than any words every did in any conversation Sadie ever had verbally in a long time.

Sadie nodded and smiled. A peace washed over her a river. She smiled and bumped into him with her shoulder, as if to say, " you are alright kiddo" Brendan understood the sentiment and the message without words and smiled.

Then she stood up, Brendan followed suit. As Sadie began to start their walk back towards the recreation center, Brendan grabbed her hand, and stopped her, and he hugged her, and then he nodded. The conversation she had with Brendan, in those quiet priceless moments were like having hot cocoa with an angel.

An angel that really understood her and was truly listening as her eyes expressed such heaviness, tiredness and concern. An exhaustion, and sadness, she could not even hide from her client, a client that she is able to spend time with without sharing words. Yet she expressed so much. He shared so much also.

So much comfort, so much consolation, he truly was her friend. What was just supposed to be a job between jobs, had turned out to be one of the most beautiful friendships and experiences with another human being Sadie ever had. God knew what he was doing, when he placed this opportunity in Sadie's path. To think, Sadie thought she could be a help to him and his family, it was more like the other way around. The conversation over hot cocoa was one she would remember for a lifetime.

Where did the pain come from? You might be a bit curious to know. You see, Sadie was a mom with two adult sons who struggled with a lot of things in life, including alcohol & marijuana addiction, anxiety, depression, physical health issues. Most of all, they struggle with who they are and what they were called to do in life.

Sadie has travailed, crying out to God in prayer for years for her sons daily that they come to know their identity in Christ. Recently she grown weary and tired. People who do not just listen with their ears, but with their heart can see this about Sadie. She needed her breakthrough. Its time.

Even Brendan, who she never shared her story or pain verbally, was able to see what she was going through, more than her very own family could, who she told over and over again many times. Yet they never shown they were listening to the way God used Brendan to hear her and see her, just by the sigh she let out on that bench and the tiredness in her eyes. I believe God used Brendan that day to let Sadie know that God heard her prayer, and He will one day give her heart's desire.

Did I mention yet that Hot Cocoa Conversations are the best kind? Well, if I haven't yet, I am here to tell you that they certainly are! Just as the hot cocoa is so silky and smooth, and soothing as you drink it, going down so easy, so do the words of an insightful friend, whether the words are spoken or unspoken. It's still conversation, the best kind of conversation.

December 05, 2023 07:43

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David McCahan
08:56 Dec 14, 2023

A lovely story of connection. Some technical comments: pay attention to your verb tenses so they remain constant. The switch back and forth between present and past can interrupt the flow of a very warm tale. And be careful when using openings like “Once upon a time”. Best advice I was ever given regarding that was say it out loud before you start writing and then start with the next bit that follows. A very comforting and hopeful story, though, to be sure.


Vanessa Severino
18:12 Dec 14, 2023

Wow, I am incredibly grateful for your input:) Thank you so much :) for taking the time to provide feedback. It is very helpful and encourages me as someone new on campus.


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