Some memories are fuzzy like, “What did I have for breakfast today?”, while others are etched in my brain as if they happened yesterday. One of the latter occurred just days after a doctor told us Katie had neurological impairment and would go home on a feeding tube and oxygen. I was on the phone with my sister and I said, “I can handle a lot of things, but I don’t think I can do this if she can’t talk.”
The thought of Katie never talking was more than I could handle because I couldn’t imagine a real relationship with someone who couldn’t talk…how would I know what she needed?, how would we “get” each other?, how would I know her favorite color or what she liked to do? And what about all the dreams I had for her?, how would she make her mark on this earth? I think the reason this memory is so etched in my brain is because I now know how very wrong I was to second guess God’s perfect plan for Katie’s life.
Katie has said so much in her silent 11 years. She changes lives every day and two of the most beautiful examples are developing before my eyes. Our precious nieces Allie and Jodie are both examples of Katie’s “mark”. At a very young age both Allie and Jodie saw the value in Katie’s life, they didn’t see her as disabled, Katie was just their awesome cousin.
Jodie started volunteering in the Special Education classroom in elementary school and continued through middle school. She says she wants to be a Special Ed teacher. On Jodie’s 11th birthday instead of receiving gifts from her friends she asked for donations to an Early Intervention center Katie attended. And this summer I was brought to tears when she spent two weeks volunteering at a Special Needs camp. Instead of lying by the pool at home, she was tube feeding kids, taking them on inner tube rides and giving them an amazing experience. Focusing on other people and putting your own needs second is one of the most valuable lessons in life, I think Jodie learned this from Katie.
I will never forget the day Allie held Katie for the first time, her eyes and smile were so wide. They have always had a deep love for each other. Katie adores Allie and smiles whenever she is around. Allie wrote papers in elementary and high school about how her cousin had changed her life. She is now entering her senior year of college where she is studying to be a Speech Therapist. Allie has a way of seeing past what makes someone different, she knows that who a person is makes them important, I think Katie helped teach her that important life lesson.
These two precious examples are just a few I get to witness being Katie’s mom. So when I look back on that day 11 ½ years ago I smile and actually giggle a bit at how naive I was. How could I have been so blind, so blind to the fact that God has got this?
“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
His plan is so much greater than anything we can imagine. I am reminded daily that when life just doesn’t make sense and we can’t imagine something good coming from such tragedy, we have to trust in the Lord. What may appear broken to our human eyes is actually God’s silent messenger bringing lessons that words just can’t teach.