I was running the other day, passing many houses on my one long six mile route around our town. I find one big lap to be far more entertaining to my eyes and mind than several laps around a track. So I look and think. Look and pray. Look and think…and run.
So the other day as I was doing the above, I see in the distance a lady walking a dog. I am not sure if it was her gait that jarred my memory, or her dog or both. But I had a flash of a memory…I have not seen her in a long time… I remembered she had a son about my older daughter’s age. The memory was fuzzy ( maybe due to lack of oxygen… I was running after all :) ) but maybe due to how far away the memory was. But anyway, her son was a really nice boy, he was in Emily’s class. Then, I thought about how old Emily was when he was in her class. She was six years old and in first grade, I determined. Then my mind went to the fact that in first grade, Emily had a function at school that involved my help and that I brought Elizabeth. This started me thinking about how Elizabeth had just started a speech class that year and had JUST uttered her first real sentence in her life. I had a wash of emotions at this point. So between the running, the memory and the emotions I was feeling a bit too much. A little part of me wished that this lady or I had picked a different route for the day.
So as I got past this wash of emotions, I started running up a hill ( not on purpose, it was on the route) and I started thinking of how much of life is life chapters. I chugged up the hill thinking how we all have chapters in our lives that mark time. Some are labeled by years, some are labeled by jobs we have had, some are labels by major life changes. In my case, I have a lot of chapters labeled around Elizabeth, “Before Elizabeth was in therapy” ” After Elizabeth started therapy”, ” Before Elizabeth talked” or “After Elizabeth talked” and so on.
My chapters are based on these times of Elizabeth’s life because how she was at many times, affected our whole family and how we were able to accomplish many things. My chapters labels probably differ from those of families with typical developing children as they did not have the “befores” and “afters” to mark the course of their families and lives. Parents of special needs children will totally understand this.
Sometimes a review of these chapters can illicit a feeling of accomplishment for all we have done and how far she has come. But other times, can make you poignantly aware of just how far you might still need to go. Similar to how I run, slow and steady…is how we chose to live life with Elizabeth. We will have our highs and lows but it is a marathon….not a sprint.
Those chapters are there to mark a life of an amazing child. Sure we made goofs, lots of them and sure we got things right too, but the thing is, as I review these chapters, I see that how we have grown with her, learned from her and how we learned we will never give up on her. So armed with that knowledge, we continue to mark new chapters of this young lady’s life.
Thank you Elizabeth for somehow, whether you know it or not, you are a great teacher to me again.
I wish you all a peaceful week.