When Our Support Group Gave Us the Gift We Wouldn’t Ask For
I’ve been wanting to write about this for almost two months, but the words never seem quite right.
It was exactly 34 hours after I stood in our kitchen and cried to my husband, Dave. I felt like no one understood our struggle. No one read our blog. No one cared about our daughter, Adelaide, or her future. They were not true words at all. It was just how I felt. And he let me cry before saying, “What if they don’t? What if no one does care about Adelaide? What if no one reads anything you write? It doesn’t matter. We love her. God loves her. That matters.”
He was right, and I knew it. I was sleep-deprived and experiencing what all special needs moms feel, even if they never admit to it. And I don’t really want to admit to it either, but I promised myself I would always be honest in my writing. These words will serve as reminders to me in the future. These posts may help someone else in the same situation. No one ever faces the exact same things we do because Adelaide is a human being with her own struggles and accomplishments. And we have yet to find another person with her unique blend of abilities and weaknesses. But me, I’m just like so many other moms. And I was being a crybaby in our kitchen.
Sunday morning, the class was passing a card of sympathy for a woman in our group who just lost her mother. That’s what I assumed; I thought nothing else of it until the card made its way to my friend and she didn’t hand it to me. She must have had a reason. No big deal. I figured I’d sign it during the fellowship time. At the end of class, she pullled out the card, and I saw my family’s names. I saw the word “UpSee.” I saw a dollar sign. I turned to Dave and whispered, “Oh crap. Our name is on it.” Yep. One of the most touching moments of my life. Some of my dearest friends were gifting us an Upsee — something that had been on the wish list for what felt like a century. And I whispered something so dumb. Because Dave and I aren’t good at accepting gifts. We never have been. We were awkward and didn’t know what to do. I took the card and everyone was saying the sweetest things and I just knew they were all thinking I would say something tender or eloquent or even half-intelligible. All I could do was cry. Conviction. That’s what I was thinking. Just two nights before I was saying that no one cared. And here these people had sacrificed — $500 from a dozen families. That is sacrifice. And I felt so wrong for even taking it. We have so many needs in our group. But I took the envelope filled with cash. They explained they were going to order the UpSee but couldn’t get the measurements right. They wanted to surprise us with the actual product but didn’t want to mess it up. I was still speechless and wondering how I was going to thank these people.
Dave and I knew our LifeGroup had given us one of the best gifts we could ever imagine. Not just something Adelaide could use, but the hope that we aren’t invisible. Of course, that is the irony, isn’t it? As special needs parents, we want to be invisible. We don’t want attention on us. We want people to see our kids and how they’re progressing. We want people to pray for our children. Healing for things we’re told will never change. Wisdom for all the people who care for our little ones. Strength for everything they face. Provision for the never-ending bills. But we don’t really want people to look us in the eyes and ask how we’re doing. Or meet a need we weren’t even sure we needed met.
We wanted to thank them, but nothing seemed fitting. So we sent a card and a photo of Adelaide. And I felt like I’d fallen short in the reciprocity category. But deep, deep down I knew they wanted nothing else. I thought about treats or coffee or even flowers. None of it seemed right.
These people have been with us throughout our entire journey. We joined our LifeGroup right before Adelaide was diagnosed as being undiagnosable. They prayed over us as we were told that she may have a cyst and require neurosurgery. They prayed for every step of our journey through two different neurologists on opposite sides of the state. And the whole time they kept asking what they could do. Babysit? Meals? Gas money? We, of course, refused anything. That’s just how we are. But they kept asking. So, one summer, they just did what they knew was right and didn’t ask. And here is the fruits of their labor. Their sacrifice. Their gift.
Adelaide walked for the very first time on July 15, 2014.
This post originally appeared on Little House in the City.
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