Sunday, May 11, 2014

13th Annual Mother's Tea

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I received a very special invite to the 13th Annual Mother's Tea sponsored by Ability Connection Colorado (Formerly Known as CP of Colorado) by a dear friend named Patricia Skolnik.   I met Patty, during one of the most heartbreaking times of my life.   Silent Snow was my first blog post during that time. I was trying to find a way to express my tremendous pain, still hesitant to tell anyone what had happened.  I laid in bed for 3 days motionless, unable to move from the deepest depression I have ever experienced in my life.   I was trying to grasp how a jury could prevent justice from prevailing for my child.  How a hospital, doctor and two nurses could just walk away without any consequence for being the cause of my child's severe brain damage.   The world had turned it's back on us, I found myself in a position of scrambling to find $12,000 for a court transcript to preserve our right to appeal for Noah, without any attorneys who wanted to move forward with us into an appeal.  An Order of Judgment had just come down against us for $340,000.  And in the 11th hour, as I broke down on my kitchen floor, on my knees, wailing with all the cries deep within my soul, an amazing lady viewed Noah's story on 9news and contacted us.   That lady was Patty.
Patty Skolnik at Mother's Tea

Patty herself no stranger to grief, pain and loss.  Her son Michael underwent unnecessary brain surgery at the age of 22 which led to his death three years later.  She has transformed her heartbreak into being a Patient Advocate for others.  "She is the founder and director of Citizens for Patient Safety (CPS), a non-profit global grassroots organization working to create transparency between consumers, the medical community, insurance companies and the legal community ― to improve the healthcare system and quality of care that patient’s receive."  Patty is featured on the documentary Breaking the Wall of Silence  and her story was also featured on The Doctors.

Without having ever met me, here she was, this voice on the other line, I could feel her hug me through the phone, her voice soft, soothing and reassuring me I'd be okay, she was going to help me.  "Don't worry" she said, "pick yourself up we're going to help you find an attorney to move forward."  And she did exactly that.   In fact our first meeting was at an attorney's office who was our only hope and chance for Noah.    She has been my life-line in recent months, offering me encouragement and comfort, checking in from time to time because she cares so deeply about Noah and our family.  I've drawn upon her strength as a mother that has experienced the ultimate pain that life can deliver,  she has served as my example of how to keep going, and most importantly how to transform your grief and despair into change, reform, hope and advocacy for others.   She is my example of how to move forward with grace, dignity and the fierce drive to improve the lives of those you touch.

So when I received her invite for Mother's Tea I was eager to share her company and positivity that naturally radiates any room she's in.   I draw upon her energy - a fuel... a reminder that I can keep going.  And when there are days when I think I can't do any more.  I think of Patty and say yes you can.  Pick yourself up.  Find your inner-core.  And keep going.

I didn't really know many of the attendees at Mother's Tea, looked around and only seen one familiar face.   Figured I'd just do what my mother taught me to do and that was to be a little social butterfly.   I stood in line for my raspberry-peach champagne, then toured over to the line for portraits.   While standing there by myself, I suddenly heard this little voice say "hello."  It was a sweet little lady behind me.  She asked if by chance my child had cerebral palsy, I said yes.  She said so did her son, but he had passed away after 57 years of life.   She said her name was Grace, and we chatted a bit about others we knew in the special needs community, and through conversation realizing we had a mutual contact.  Sometimes it's a small world on how we all are destined to connect and come to know each other.   But I'm convinced nothing is chance.  It's all part of this bigger plan that I will never fully understand.   We were getting along so wonderfully the photographer thought we had come together, and didn't know that we had only met a short few minutes before.   We decided to take pictures together.  New friends.

It was a rather large event with numbered tables, so I helped Grace find her table then I found mine across the way.  I was introduced to so many wonderful, talented and amazing women.  Lunch was served immediately with a delicate salad and tea to start, followed by a mushroom ravioli with sausage and chocolate mouse with cookie crumb topping for desert.    We had light conversation, and each introduced each other at the table, of course with me being the only introduction that came with water-works.  When you look back and remember the pain that brought you to that friend, it's hard not to get teary.

They had ballroom dancers with a lovely young lady named Sarah.  Sarah has cerebral palsy and is such a wonderful, inspiring example of how all things can be possible.  You just have to believe.   It took her 10 months to learn just one dance box step.  Her perseverance and beautiful spirit kept going forward, and today she is able to dance several dances.   It was beautiful to watch her.   Even more beautiful to hear her words of love for her mother.   I doubt there was a dry eye in the house. 
Sarah, sharing her experiences dancing with Cerebral Palsy

They also had a small fashion show with clothing lines from the Gap.  It was so neat to see a handicapped ramp at a fashion show.  Many children in wheelchairs, modeling their clothing for all of us.  Was very sweet and lovely.   All of those children so proud of themselves.  It made your heart swell with joy for each of them. 
Gap Fashion Show Models
Gap Fashion Show Models
All of the Gap Fashion Show Models on Stage

Then came the end, where they nominate and select six mothers to receive a pamper package for special recognition for the difference that mothers make in the lives of their children with special needs.  It was so wonderful to hear about the stories of each person nominated and the difference they made.   Patty was the last to present at Tea.  I expected her to offer a thank you speech to all who attended.  Little did I know, that she had found the letter I had written and posted on my blog about welcoming a A Child with Special Needs on Their First Day of Life .  As soon as she started reading and she had to take a break from tears... I knew those were my words.   Hearing what was once written in my heart spoken by another is quite moving.  It took on a life it's own, off the page and into the hearts of other mothers.  Patty saying all these amazing things about the characteristics she seen in me... things I never thought of myself as.  I only get up each day knowing I have to put one foot in front of the other for Noah.   It was an overwhelming moment that someone seen so much in me.  I've always only viewed Noah as this little shinning light, never me.  I've only ever wanted to be the voice for his life, his legacy and journey.  

Patty presented me with the final pamper package gift, so unexpected, and such a beautiful surprise.  My little thank you speech was unrehearsed, so I was slightly emotional, with so many rambling thoughts running through my mind, most of which how honored and privileged I felt to be a part of such an amazing group of women.   As my new friend Grace said "we are survivors."  We have been through things in our lives most couldn't ever imagine, never feel, never fully grasp or understand until you've lived it.  We can look at each other and know.  We need no words, just as our children need no words.  It's something that never goes away, not even in the eyes of the mothers that have lost their children to heaven.  I hope that I'm blessed to attend again, it was truly one of the most rewarding experiences to be in such inspiring company. 


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