Friday, October 11, 2013

Our lens

In the beginning I had a plan. I had certain dreams. Certain expectations. But life doesn’t always respect a plan. That is how it was with us. There was the “plan” and what actually came to pass.

Our early years became a blur when Sam showed signs of atypical development. I was hurled into survival mode while trying to make sense of it all. At the insistence of the specialists and the folks at Early Intervention, survival quickly morphed into “fix it” mode, effectively entering us into a war with destiny. Everyone was consumed with changing the path we’d been put on. They told me time was my enemy. I struggled to help Sam keep up as time spun relentlessly.

Each day was a roller coaster of highs and lows; a jumble of emotions, intricately tangled together, exceeding what seemed humanly possible. Emotions so big I thought they’d swallow us whole. I struggled; enamored with the child I had and saddened by everyone’s desire to change him. Unsure of what to do.

Sam, all the while, took most days in stride; forcing us to slow down, even stop to find joy in little things we might have otherwise missed. Within the sea of doctors and experts advising us of how to “fix” our child, Sam was the “voice” of reason, compelling us to find balance between the world we were told we wanted and the world we’d been handed. 

In a blink, eighteen years passed. And in spite of everyone’s best efforts, Sam’s path never changed. The only path that changed was mine.  

Raising Sam changed forever the lens I used to view life. He altered every perception, every understanding of what was important. He challenged every belief I held dear. He humbled me. He made it impossible to ever be the careless person I once was.

At first it was hard to let go society’s image of perfection. I didn’t know anything about raising a child with a disability. I was flying blind. Some days seemed endless. Progress was often slow. But somehow on the most difficult days I’d look into a pair of bright dark eyes and see a smile with the power to melt every frustration, to make everything inexplicably right. I knew the warmth of a hand that reached into my heart, compelling me to surrender.

Slowly over time I reconciled myself to the challenges; learned to see the perfection in what we had. And eventually there was peace. As we charted our own course I finally opened my eyes and saw before me the child I never expected, but knew beyond any doubt was exactly the child I’d waited my lifetime to find.

And it was good. 

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