"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." - e.e.cummings
I have been so inspired by the lives of the many children we know who face life threatening illnesses and disabilities. Children with physical disabilities, like my own son, or those with medical complexities or multiple diagnoses - they have incredible strength and courage and are a living testament to the unbending spirit that resides within all of us. These beautiful children have added a whole new dimension to my own perspective on life, as I hope they do to yours. These children's lives are filled with therapy sessions and doctor's appointments. They have been through surgeries and procedures and have had so much to endure at such a young age. It doesn't make sense. Why should a four year old have to battle cancer? Why must a baby never know a life free from tubes and machines? Why does a young child have to struggle so hard to do what comes so naturally to others? Why?
Life can be unfair. Life can be hard, and we don't have all the answers. It takes tremendous courage to face the challenges that have been placed upon us. Sometimes the weight of everyday life can be overwhelming and it takes courage and strength to plow through. Mary Tyler Moore said, “You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.”
It's true. There would be no need to be brave if life was easy. The fact is that we all face challenges and adversity. It is how we handle ourselves and how we choose to face our challenges that will have the most impact on the path our lives will take.
It takes courage to live this life. Children with severe disabilities and medical conditions possess an incredible strength and bravery, and parenting them requires tremendous courage and strength as well. I struggle with fear about so many things - the responsibilities are enormous - but I have begun to understand that I can acknowledge the fear, and move on with courage.
There are many things in life that are scary, but some of the best things in life are things that scare us at first. Like traveling across the world, changing career paths, starting a new relationship, having a baby.. receiving a diagnosis.. and raising a child with special needs. All of these things may make you scared when you first think of doing them, but it can be even scarier to think of not doing them. Sometimes you come out of those scary, painful moments a different person. A better person. A happier person. Those scary moments can make the happy moments that much happier. Does that make sense? My life didn't go as planned for me, and that's ok. That's more than ok. In fact, I've never been happier! I think sometimes where you think you want to go, is not the place where you will find your heartfelt, most meaningful, most purposeful life. I have found that purposeful life in raising my child with special needs, and caring for other children with disabilities.
I have learned that I can do hard things. I would never before have considered myself brave. I don't like roller coasters or airplanes. I don't eat strange things. I would never go bungee jumping or sky diving. I am not brave in that sense. But I have learned over these past eleven years that I am braver and stronger than I ever thought I was.
It's not easy. Sometimes courage is so hard to find. When your tank feels empty, it can be hard to believe that you have any courage left at all, and finding renewed strength isn't always something that you feel capable of. When you think you've done the hard things, there are always more things that require more courage, and you just feel like saying, "But I've already done the hard things. I'm taking a break." But of course, there is no break.
I am continuing to learn about being brave, and having courage. I learn from all of your stories, as they have brought inspiration, joy, tears, understanding, truth and love. My heart is full and I am grateful for all that I have been given, and all that I continue to receive. My son, Brennen is a constant source of strength for me. I am driven by the strength that comes from within him. I have learned so much from him, and have grown in ways I wasn't expecting. There is no question that my life has changed forever with an increasing awareness of my own strength through adversity, and a greater understanding of what's important.