Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Luckiest

It's been forever since I've blogged, and I hate to come out of the gate with something that is kind of a downer, but it's something I've been wanted to share. I work in a college disability services office where we provide services to a wide range of students - learning disabilities, Asperger's, psychological issues, and physical disabilities, including students who are deaf or blind.

One of the first students I met when I began working in my office over two years ago was a girl named Samantha (Sam). Sam had a degenerative condition that was slowly stealing her ability to see, hear, or speak clearly, and at the time I met her she was in a motorized wheelchair and assisted by a service dog. She was a sweet, smart, funny girl whom everyone bent over backward to help. About a year after met her, Sam withdrew from the university to go home and pursue writing children's books about service animals. The truth was, her health was declining and her family wasn't sure how much longer she had.

Recently we learned Sam was at home, being cared for by hospice. One of her friends at the university decided to set up a scholarship in her honor, and at our office's scholarship reception a couple of weeks ago, Sam's dad came to help present the scholarship to this year's recipient. He choked up as he shared how grateful he was for the support they had received from our office, and told us Sam was still holding her own, resting peacefully for most of every day. I later went up to him to tell him how often people inquire about her, how loved she was, and recounted a story to make him laugh about a day when her service dog was tangled in her wheels, and we heard a very clear, "HELP!" from our hallway as she yelled to us. As I told him the story from where I was seated, I realized looking up at him that Sam had his eyes. And my heart broke for their family.

I went home that night and I rocked Amelia before bed, and as she squirmed around and pulled my hair, I couldn't help but wonder if Sam's family ever had those moments. And I felt so terrifically blessed. The future is always a great unknown, but in that moment my heart was so full of gratitude and love for my precious girl that I can't put it into words.

There are amazing women I encounter every day who have lost a child, or who have tried for years to get pregnant - and are still trying. There are amazing families who are blessed with children, only to have their lives changed forever by illness. But rather than drowning in self pity, they are often the strongest, most amazing people I have had the privilege of knowing.

"They left me with your shadow, saying things like Life is not fair & I believed them for a long time. But today, I remembered the way you laughed & the heat of your hand in mine & I knew that life is more fair than we can ever imagine if we are there to live it." ~storypeople.com

*To read the story of a wonderful mom and daughter currently fighting a battle for a 4-year-old's ability to speak, check out this blog post at Uncommon Sense.*

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