Thursday, October 10, 2013

Five Minutes on Saturday

Sometimes, just one simple everyday moment in time can completely rock my world, and give me new perspective.

That happened to me last Saturday, simply because I met someone and spent five minutes with her. Five minutes that I will probably think about for the rest of my life.

The day before, on Friday, I had a moment with Lilli that I rarely get. Lilli still takes a nap every day. She gets tired out. She's almost ten, but something about her neurologically - maybe the seizures - maybe the brain damage - she still must take a fifteen to thirty minute nap every day. And almost every day, she naps in her special needs carseat while we are driving to pick up Chloe from school.

But Friday was different. Jasen had the day off, and he went to pick up Chloe. Josh had fallen asleep on the floor in front of a Batman cartoon. So I decided I would just try and lay down with Lilli to get her to take a short nap. We snuggled together, and she fell asleep.

Years of interrupted sleep since Lilli was born has wrecked my ability to nap. I have a lot of trouble sleeping. But I didn't mind the quiet time to lay next to her, thinking. It was so sweet, this moment with my daughter. I spend a lot of time helping, dressing, feeding, bathing, coordinating her school and therapy schedules and goals. Then there's Josh and Chloe, who need attention too. But I rarely get to have a quiet time with Lilli, where I lay down and take a nap with her in the middle of the afternoon. (Any mom will agree that it's a miracle to have all of your children nap at once.) I thought, wow, I wonder if I will still be taking naps with Lilli many years from now, when Josh and Chloe are older and are both at school all day.

Then I thought, I wonder how many other moms of nine year olds can do this? 

I hugged sweet Lilli, listened to her soft breathing, and I felt blessed.

The next day, Saturday, I met a girl. The girl I will be thinking about for a long time.

I had heard about her for several months, but I had never met her in person.

A friend stopped by to pick something up. She had this girl with her because she helps provide care for her on the weekends. I went out to the van, because I really wanted to meet this girl that I had heard so much about.

I went up to the window of the van, and introduced myself. I won't tell you her name. She is a twenty five year old girl who has autism. She is non verbal. She has no way to communicate. She cannot be left alone. She needs a lot of care.

She was silently sitting in the back seat of the van, looking down at her hands. I said hello to her though the window, and she looked up at me. Her clear blue, beautiful eyes looked directly into mine.

"I've heard a lot about you, lots of good things," I said. "It's so nice to finally meet you."

She was silent. I smiled at her. "How old are you?"

Some long-time readers will remember an old post of mine about talking to a person with disabilitites. (If you missed it you can read it here.) I knew that this girl could not speak. But she deserves to be spoken to. Everyone does. We talk to infants. We talk to cats and dogs. Some of us even talk to plants. I catch myself talking to toys on the floor, although it's not always nice words. If we talk to animals and objects, how can we ever ignore a person with a disability? It's a person. I know it's hard to know what to do when you see people in wheelchairs, people with missing limbs or people with mental challenges. This is what you do: smile, look them in the eyes, and say hello. That's all.

She reached out through the window and touched me.

I waited a few beats, and then asked my friend how old she is.

Twenty five.

This is what hit my heart: She's an older version of my Lilli. Sixteen years from now. Maybe.

Maybe Lilli will speak words one day. You know that is my biggest prayer for her. But maybe she won't, and that's okay.

I felt the urge to hang out with this girl. I wanted to paint her nails and read her a cool book. I looked at her and saw what looks very much like my future daughter.

And I felt overwhelmingly blessed.

The next morning, we went to church, and part of the message was about joy. That as we take communion, part of it is to remember that God wants to give us true joy in our lives. As we took communion together, tears ran down my face as I thought about how my life has not turned out at all the way I expected. We've missed a lot. My high school reunion is coming up. I cannot even consider it. I have missed weddings of dear friends. I have missed holding their new babies. We have missed trips and vacations. We might always struggle to find people to watch Lilli so we can simply go on a date. We might always struggle financially to live on one income so I can stay home with Lilli and provide for her needs.

But I am seeing that God's plans for my life were greater than any idea I ever imagined. And the blessings far outweigh the things we have missed.

When I was twenty-four with a fresh new teaching career, I never dreamed I would one day resign, because I have a child with special needs who I will likely be caring for full-time for the rest of my life. Some might see it as a burden. I cannot explain it well enough in words. And even when I say this, some will not understand or see it.

But it is not a burden.

It is an incredible blessing, and a privilige. A gift from God. A glimpse of Him. A tiny piece of an idea of heaven.

Even if that does not make any sense to you, I had to try and put it into words somehow.

It's true, I do have some very difficult, discouraging moments. It's hard. Very hard.

But it's a blessing. It is a joy. True joy is not always for happy times. Sometimes joy is most precious in the hardest times. When a person can go through a dark time and still know that God is with them, that God has plans for them, that God knows the future and it is all going to work out for our good, that is real joy.

I'm blessed that God had better plans for me than I could ever imagine. And I'm blessed to have met a future version of Lilli, so that I could have a glimpse of my own heart. I realize that I am not dreading the future. I am not afraid. I am not depressed. I am blessed. I have a purpose.

I am Lilli's mom.

Lilli and me at the pumpkin patch this week. 


  1. Sorry we'll miss you at the reunion, but thanks for the link to the previous post. Hope you are all well.