Monday, August 13, 2007

Ok, so don't tell the wife, but...

I've been thinking a lot these days; more of an off and on passing set of thoughts of a random nature on various topics. However, after this weekend, a few thoughts are no longer random and I think it is because when you come face to face with something, it moves it from your sub-conscience to your conscience.

Our daughter is away at camp for a couple of weeks in Huntsville. We surprised her on the weekend by going up for Visitor's Day when we told her that we would not be as it was too hard to go up there three consecutive weekends in a row. Needless to say, she was super excited when we showed up (even after being so down when Patti tricked her by saying she didn't think we were coming). I think her reaction meant more to me than she will ever know. All a parent ever wants is to know they are loved, wanted, needed and appreciated by their child(ren). And though we have had some doozy moments in the very recent past, we still see that little girl in her that wants and appreciates her mother and father being there for her.

We saw lots of examples of that theme echoed throughout the camp as parents and kids were reunited for a few hours of a wet Sunday afternoon. Younger kids and older teenagers held court as parents invaded their turf and shared a little in what they get to experience 24-7 for varying lengths of time during the summer. One particular group though showed this even more than the others; this was the special needs children.

There was one girl, whose condition we do not know and did not recognize, that was incredibly energetic and extremely strong. This was evident by the effort exerted by her father as he tried his best to keep her from running off and either hurting someone or hurting herself even more (there was a large bruise/cut on her left leg from an obvious earlier mishap). While being able to communicate in some way, she was unable to speak, had a short attention span and moved in rapid, but jerky movements that was determined but not flailing. There were a few kids that have Down's Syndrome and a few others we were introduced to that did not have any appearances that pointed out differences, but the way the staff spoke with them indicated that they were special needs. We had a student join my class in high school that was in a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy so I am not unfamiliar with the challenges a special need imposes on the person's life and those around them. However, seeing that father struggling with holding his young daughter back (she may be about 15) hit me visually, emotionally and spiritually. It took everything to hold back tears. Naturally, I lied to my wife when she asked if anything was wrong. Actually, I take that back because nothing was wrong. What it was can only be explained as "real".

We are an older couple, using a scientific and medical procedure to create the greatest miracle there is. Even at its most natural and most pure, anything can happen. Introduce new factors into the mix and you have the potential of issues escalate exponentially. Now, I am not being a negative ninny or looking only at everything that could happen. I am simply facing the reality that was put before me and wondering what we would do. Naturally we want the best possible outcome and we will keep focussed and optimistic for that result. For the first time, I do not want to be the realist in this process because it means dealing with an area I don't want to deal with. I will have the strength should that time come. I just hope it never does.

To all those parents with special needs children, I admire and salute you for your dedication and strength. Your child may never be able to properly express their gratitude to you but I believe they understand and appreciate all you do for them. I saw that yesterday and I understand that today. I pray for the strength tomorrow and I hope that I won't need it.


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