Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How We See the Powerless

Our home health nurse was out of town. It was my scheduled day to work lunch duty at school for a fundraiser, so I loaded Reese in her wheelchair and buckled her in the van. Because I've become a certifiable germaphobe, I don't bring her to school very often anymore. Hey, don't judge. Germs can send us to crazy town so fast this time of year.

I parked Reese next to my picnic table. She enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the gentleness of the breeze, eyes closed, half smiling. The second graders moved through the line and I noticed some wide eyes examining her. There was one girl who positioned herself at the table opposite Reese and fixed her eyes on her. She took a bite of her sandwich but never loosened her gaze. Staring. and staring. eating and staring. Then she whispered something to her friend, never allowing her eyes to leave Reese. I realized Reese and this girl were the same age. She was curious. Maybe concerned. Reese no longer looks like a baby in a stroller. She is a big girl in a wheelchair. It's so hard for me to watch people stare at her, and not really because it hurts me anymore. But it hurts me for Reese. Something about this made me extra sad, because she was essentially a "peer" of Reese's, and I thought about how Reese might feel. They would be classmates under different circumstances. I stared back at that girl until she finally took her eyes off the object of her curiosity, noticing my returned stare. Finally, she looked away.

I wondered for a second. Will my girls be embarrassed by her when they come to lunch? I wouldn't blame them. I hate to say that, but I remember being an adolescent. Anything that is different or that draws attention your way can be awkward, even devastating. Their peers made their way through the line and I wondered. Is this hard on them? My heart hurt a little.

Then I heard her. I heard our daughter from across the courtyard. She was sitting with her high school friends. She spotted her 8 year old sister in her sun hat, reclining in her pink wheelchair. "Oh, look at Reese! She looks so cute!!" she told her table of friends. Then she returned to being a high schooler at lunch. She wasn't embarrassed. She was proud of her and she wanted everyone to see her! Yes. That brought a smile. One by one, her three sisters individually came over to give Reese a hello and a kiss. That staring episode was quickly overshadowed by the pure, unashamed love.

It reminded me of one of my fave fave favorite books, "The Power of the Powerless." The author said of his brother, "My room was separated from Oliver's room by a single wall. Five inches of wood and plaster divided us from each other during the night. We breathed the same night air as Oliver did, listened to the same wind, and slowly, without our knowing, Oliver created a certain power around us which changed all our lives. I cannot explain Oliver's influence except to say that the powerless in our world do hold great power. The weak do confound the mighty." Insert Reese's name in there--that has been our life. Totally changed.

The other day I told my sister that too often people tell me that Reese's life makes them so grateful for their healthy children. That's weird, right? It happens more often than you'd think. I know they think that will be a blessing to me. It's not, really. I guess I'm not nice enough or mature enough to appreciate that offering. Or something else. But we hashed that out together, realizing at the core of that comment is the lack of understanding that I am the one who is blessed. I cannot explain the power of a child like Reese. But she has brought a sacred, beautiful, powerful fragrance to our home. To our air. To our lives. We are blessed because of her, not in spite of her. It's true. I feel like the world needs to know that. 1 Corinthians 1:27 says, "God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful." Those who live with a powerless child know this to be true, if we will have eyes to see.

"So much depends upon how we choose to see things and events...we have the power to choose." Christopher De Vinck

17 comments:

  1. Every word is true and I love peering into the depth of your wisdom and understanding, love and patience. Our family knows personally the joy of one sent from heaven with the purity of innocence and untainted joy. Our Traci and your Reese are God's very special gifts from his hand to ours. Love, Carol

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    1. Thank you, Carol. I know you know. You have been blessed by Traci and you are more beautiful because of her!

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  2. Love that you wrote this piece. Thank you. xo

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Rudri! xo

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  3. I look forward to reading your blogs. It refreshes me and gives me hope. Each of your daughters is so unique and beautiful. We are blessed to know you guys!

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    1. Thank you, Mallory. That means a lot to me. xo

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  4. I look forward to reading your blogs. It refreshes me and gives me hope. Each of your daughters is so unique and beautiful. We are blessed to know you guys!

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  5. Love you, love Reesey, love all of your girls and how much they love Reese! It is such a blessing to see how absolutely in love with her they are! So well written, Ker! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you, Kristen! We love you too. Thanks for the inspiration to tell people I am the one who is blessed. :)

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  6. So so beautiful and full of truth. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Your personal truths and realizations are inspiring and appreciated. I can only imagine how hard it is to share such personal inner thoughts & struggles. Please know how appreciated they are. So many times I read forums & posts of mom's that make me feel inadequate, weak, and guilty of my own struggles. The opposite stand is almost a victimization of their "situation". I try to stay clear of these, as I feel it's too easy to get sucked in. The inner struggle is real and it's relatable. I, also, have a sister who helps me process my thoughts. She is my gift from God. I smiled, as I imagined your conversation and how I could relate.
    I love the quotes and the bible verse and will keep them as a reminder, as well as a lesson, for my own family. You have such a beautiful family inside & out. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement, Michelle. It means a lot to me. Sometimes I feel like I write for myself, so I can sort out my thoughts and know what I'm thinking. I share it in the hope that someone else will be blessed by it or feel closer to God because of it. It's very healing to me to hear how it affects people differently and God uses that encouragement to keep me writing. So thank you for your kind words. My life is neither the perfect life that people should feel "less than" because of, nor do I feel sorry for myself or consider myself victimized in any way. Thanks for verbalizing that! It awakens me!!

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  8. https://starinhereye.wordpress.com/2015/12/08/a-lonely-love/

    Hi there....it the Mariana's trench Mama...love this post! I sent you a link of an amazing blogger. This 'lonely love' is a great post. You may have come across it already. All the best....keep writing ��

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  9. Oh wow. I read it. That is soooo good and I heard a ding!!! She hit the nail on the head, for sure. Do you and I know each other?:)

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  10. No we don't know each other lol!! Im just a Canadian mom. I feel like I know you and your family through your honest writing. I really can't explain to you fully what your writing and your growth and insite has helped me learn. For the longest time I just grieved my son. And this loss of this hypothetical child. But I'm changing, learning and really am seeing things differently. Sure, there are bad days and tears but my mind and view of his life and who is to everyone he meets is different. Thankyou. Your blog began as a seed. And it has grown, matured and gotten older. I think of it as a learning tool. You are ahead of me in the journey. But honestly thankyou. Always be honest, go into the unspoken issues, and I think that alot of parents who follow your family will be blessed!!!
    Janet

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  11. Janet,
    I seriously print out your comments, as they provide me with deep, heart encouragement to keep writing. Even when it's painful, sometimes. It means so much to me that my words have helped you--it's hard for me to verbalize what that means to me. May God bless you and your son. I will remember you in my prayers, and trust that God will continue to bless you with more comfort.

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Thanks for taking the time!