Friday, December 30, 2011

What It Means

About a month ago, a small excerpt about Anabelle appeared in our local town paper, sharing with our neighbors a little about her condition and journey.  Last week, I received a check in the mail from a woman I had gone through school with.  We had been friends as children, acquaintances as teens.  I haven't seen or spoken to her since graduation.  Her mother had sent her the article, and she had looked up this blog to learn more about what was going on in our lives.  She had been touched by Anabelle's smile (I mean, really, who isn't, right?) and wanted to help.

Random monetary gifts are a phenomenon I hear about fairly often among my special needs friends.  I mean, let's face it, there is very little that someone can actually DO.  We all have to realize that the people we have shared our world with CARE about what happened to us, what IS happening to us, but have no idea what could possibly ease the burden.  And let's be honest, I know very few families who have NOT fallen onto hard times, financially, as a result of adding a special needs child to their lives.  That is just the brutal truth.

I have to admit, though, that my first reaction was discomfort.  Here was someone who started from the exact same place in life that I had.  Same town, same schools, same activities, same potential.  And yet somewhere along the line, our paths have so diverged that here I was receiving help from her.  But her words were so kind, and I will also say that (while I do not wish to disparage ANY act of kindness, no matter how great or small) the amount of the check was such that she was clearly making more than a gesture.  Her gift came from a place of true feeling and fondness.

And so I thought on it for a few days.  And two things came to me.  The first is that it was such a blessing to me that she has such kind feelings towards me so many years later.  I am the kind of person who always worries when relationships fade about what I may have done to cause it, how I was not a good enough friend, where I may have failed.  It was nice to think that despite a changing relationship over the years, the memories were all still good.

The second thing that I realized is that this kind of outward reach is exactly why I write this blog.  When I started, it was really more of a glorified journal, where I could work through my feelings and confusion about my changing world, but I soon realized that it was SO important to me to spread Anabelle as far as I could.  She is here for a reason and I have been given the task of being her mother to help her achieve her life's meaning.  She will never speak for herself, it is up to me to be her voice.  The greatest gift my friend gave to me was in telling me that my translation of Anabelle's story touched her, because now I know that I am serving my daughter in the way she needs me to.

One of my new mantras has become, "Always give what you can, when you can, because before you know it, you will be the one who needs to receive."  A key part of this journey I am on has been accepting that life is a give and take, and I must be as gracious when it is my turn to take as I try to be when it is my turn to give.

Anabelle celebrates the season in style...