Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Short Straw

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Noah's Therapy School Picture

Drawing the short straw, bad luck, and life’s misfortune often comes to the minds of those who see you with a special needs child. Some may turn away trying not to notice, some look extensively out of curiosity, while others are brave enough to engage in a brief conversation. There are even a handful of strangers that I find genuinely care, and would love to extend any support and caring that they can.

The doctor’s voices still ring out in my ears like an echo that won’t leave my side: “he, suffered a global brain injury at birth as a result of not breathing or having a heartbeat for the first thirteen minutes of life. The prognosis is grim he will never learn to crawl, walk, or talk.” Some days the dismal predictions seem haunting; while other days you think you can continually find hope and faith that those early voices were all wrong.

Although Noah is still quite young at his tender three and a half years of age, it is apparent to many visually that Noah is indeed different in some way from other children his age. Even in a stroller you know just by how Noah moves that he’s not a “typical” child according to what most people measure as such.

We’ll be out shopping and the most common phrase is “somebody looks tired.” Noah’s little floppy body and lack of physical support often make him look sleepy even when he is not. I’ve never been embarrassed to discuss Noah and his special needs. I’ve grown rather proud over the last few years that he made the choice to stay on this earth and allow me the privilege of being his mother.

One sales representative a long while back, was quite blatantly honest and said, “I just couldn’t handle that if I had a child like him.” Her remarks were not intentionally aimed to hurt, her honesty just slipped off her tongue in a natural, casual fashion. This life isn’t something that anyone decides they want. It lands in your lap life a mysterious gift, all wrapped up in a brown paper bag with the most intriguing bow so you know that the gift inside must be nothing less than magnificent.

You open that gift, with such anticipation only to find that it wasn’t at all what you were expecting, nothing at all that you had asked for. Yet you find that it was exactly what you were intended to get, if that makes any sense at all. That gift was designed just for you because not everyone with that gift would or could accept it.

There is nothing about having a special needs child that is about drawing the short straw, bad luck, or life’s misfortune. One of the possible reasons I was gifted with a special needs child is because I would have never answered honestly “I couldn’t handle it if I had a child like him.” Unknowingly, my heart was open to endless possibilities, good or bad. I would have never rejected my gift for any reason.

Certainly my life’s gift has proven to be the most challenging task of my life. It’s come with many tears, heavy worries, and sleepless nights. But it has also filled my days with profound love and gratefulness for the smallest things I may have. I find such beauty in simple things like watching a grasshopper wipe water drops off it’s legs, finding magic in a butterfly that hovers over a delicate flower, or watching a single leaf drop gently to the ground and anticipating the sound of a light crunch as it hits.

Life often feels like it is moving in slow motion. Noah isn’t meeting milestones. There is no rush to chase him around or to keep him out of trouble. He too, observes the world differently because of his physical limitations. . I’ve slowed down to participate with him. He’s teaching me to see the world how he does. And it is more beautiful than I could have imagined it to be.


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.