As I write this I am sitting near to the dining room table filled with items from Elizabeth’s years in high school.
The table is full of pictures, awards from her work study places, track pictures, medals from her art work and more. You see, Elizabeth is a senior and will be graduating on Sunday. And like all seniors, she had a full week of senior activities. The banquet for Track, the reception for the seniors, the party on the last day, graduation rehearsal and the final goodbye.
But looking at this table made me feel things that I was not really ready to feel.
I mean we are so proud of her always have been. For her hard work in life and for all her accomplishments and without a doubt we would be the first ones to tell you how far she had come in life and how amazingly strong of a person she is.
So it isn’t those feelings I am talking about it is more that the proof of all the work is sitting on the dining room table. There sits the tangible evidence of her life’s successes.
They can be seen, touched and held.
They are so unlike the successes in her early life which included things that could not be touched or held. Like her first words or her learning to jumping rope. Her first day of school or getting her braces on. Or when she spoke on stage in the third grade performance. The time she WANTED to help carve a pumpkin or play with her sister.
These are the things that we celebrated- loudly and completely all her life.
And those who have a special needs child in their life know, that we find the little successes worth the biggest rejoicing.
I know I can live off of a success for a really long time!
But as we work hard in life for our child, time passes. One year moves into the next and a child who was in first grade is now in third then fifth and middle school becomes high school and the child is now an adult and all along the way.
We are busy guiding, teaching, loving, consoling, supporting, rejoicing and advocating for our child.
Seeing this table of awards that I knew she was getting and truthfully, saw her get half of them, makes me thing how much parents and caregivers of special needs children need to remember that while we are in the forest, there are trees to be noticed.
That is what I feel like seeing this table. I was in the forest with her as the trees were there. I did not see the trees sometimes but I see them all now, on the table, as proof of a young life, well lived so far. I life that she had because we believed in her from the start. A life that she had because she had people surrounding her who loved her unconditionally and a wonderful group of therapists who helped us help her. Who believed in her abilities as much as we did.
I think what I want to encourage is to take a moment and look at the trees. I was blessed to have people in my life who encouraged me along the way, to look how far she has come to look at the trees.
If you don’t have that person or people in your life, let me be the one to encourage you to do it every so often. It gives you strength and perspective.
I am holding a picture of Elizabeth.
She is smiling broadly and she is on the track with the team.
I am seeing the trees. I hope you are too!
I wish everyone a peaceful week.