The reality of parenting an “adult” hit me square in the face a couple days ago, when my eldest son approached me in the kitchen and said, “Hey mom, a few friends and I are going skydiving on Wednesday.” Period. End of story. No groveling, no “pretty-please-I’ll-take-out-the-garbage-for-a-month” requests. Not even a cheerful assurance of his survival. As the requisite motherly reproach rose in my throat, I realized that as an eighteen-year-old he can sign any consent form he wants. How did we go from permission to get out of bed for water, to skydiving on a whim…where did the time go???
That’s been the theme of the last month, as we experienced together the joy of a sublime baccalaureate service, held at Central Union, the beautiful stone church next to the children’s hospital. I watched Chase and his classmates file into their pews under the enormous, gilded proclamation “Love Never Faileth.” I don’t know how many times during the service I looked up at those words, replaying the nights I spent next door, looking at the light in the steeple, praying for our girl to survive. With each passing day back then I came to believe more fervently that Love Always Wins. I cannot say how, or when, but I do know why. We would whisper it to Abbie, and in the mirror to ourselves. So, when I discovered a couple of years later, that the same sentiment, in more proper language, was inside the church that had buoyed my spirit, I felt God saying, “You heard my heart.” It seemed an exquisitely personalized gift from God to see Chase sit beneath those words in his white robe on such a spectacular evening.
The next day, we sat in the midst of Mid-Pacific Institute’s beautiful campus, facing the verdant mountains standing guard, feeling the gentle breezes and occasional sprinkle that typify Manoa Valley, recalling the first time we stepped onto that field. It was the night of freshman orientation. We had applied very late for Mid-Pac, and Chase was accepted off the waiting list…an extraordinary blessing. My heart was grinding in my chest, as we came to terms with yet another loss as the result of Abbie’s injury. I kept Chase home for a year more of homeschooling after she got hurt, but I knew that I could not do justice to a high school education given the demands of Abbie’s care. The bittersweetness of his acceptance at Mid-Pac almost dimmed my sight that night…but not enough to prevent God from grabbing me on that field. A rainbow was shimmering through the mist above, flowers hung heavy on the trees, and the breeze gave me a much-needed hug. This was right where God wanted Chase, and Abbie had helped get him there. There are few moments that have held such clarity as that one, nor as much gratitude.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Chase was draped in lei up to his chin. I approached him to give him one more, very special one. Fragrant pikake and innocent pink rosebuds. “This one is from your little sister, ” I said, and drew him into a hug. He clung tightly and began to cry a bit….”It’s because of her that I am here.” I wasn’t sure, on a night full of such emotions and endings, that he would recall the beginning as clearly as I. Her blessings are recognized and reverenced by her brothers, which makes me proud of all of them.
As far as Miss Abbie, she is just in a great place lately! She is enjoying getting in the pool each day, and does so well. If I hold her around her waist, she can control her upper body and head just fine. If I hold her under her arms we can “motorboat” around the shallow end. She will kick her legs a bit, when she is not shivering, and will hold her head up nicely when swimming on her stomach. She was laughing so loud the other day, that Kyle had to come see what was going on. That’s when he snapped these pictures:
Abbie has grown four inches in the last six months! She is too big for her lovely purple wheelchair, so she’s using a loaner. It’s pink, but it also has the word “Precious” stitched on the seat — her brothers thought that was very appropriate. We are in the midst of determining what her next chair will be, and the therapists agree that we should purchase a frame that will accommodate a motor, as they have been thinking about trying Abbie in a motorized wheelchair for a while. Abbie’s vision and motor skills are improving to the point that we would like to give her a little independence when it comes to movement. Even if she could just drive herself around a bit in open spaces like the park, or gym or mall, that would be sweet indeed!
This morning she awoke with so many smiles that I finally said, “You must have had very sweet dreams last night!” Big grin. “What did you dream about?” I asked. Her legs started moving back and forth. “Did you dream about running around?” Big grin. Oh, that day is coming, I tell you, that day is coming….