I experienced some serious stage fright today, on my way to speak to Abbie’s future classmates. Not because I was scared of a roomful of third-graders, but rather because I felt such pressure to do a good job for Abbie. I went there to win their hearts, to lovingly ask them to befriend my precious girl, and to be Abbie’s voice. I prayed out loud all during the drive, because I felt such a sacred responsibility to Abbie.
The time with the kids was wonderful! They listened intently, asked good questions, and were very upbeat. I almost lost it before I started, as one of the little girls placed a lei around my neck – such an unexpected kindness.
I think it really helped that they met Abbie on Monday. I described some of the special things Abbie has, like a G-tube button, suction machine, and communication devices. We also did activities to help them understand what it’s like to have spasticity, and a brain where answers may take longer to process, but are still correct. It was a lot of information to throw at them, but I started and ended with the most important thing: Abbie may be a little different on the outside, but on the inside she is just like them.
Then, I said, “Abbie’s invitation to you is to be part of a miracle. There are many who would say she should not be alive. Many said she would never breathe on her own, but she does. They said she would never see – and for a while she didn’t. But, now she does. They said she would never talk, but she’s trying. They said she would never read, but she does. They said she would never do math…but she loves it. Because of all these things, many people, including me, call her a miracle. Sometimes you have to wait your whole life to be part of a miracle, and sometimes it comes right to your classroom door. So, Abbie would like to invite you to be part of her miracle – YOU can help her get better!”
As I was leaving, Mrs. T, Abbie’s regular-ed teacher handed me a book made by her classmates. How do you turn printer paper into gold? Cover it with love, and illustrate it with joy. On each page was a picture of one classmate, along with a letter written to Abbie. Although I cannot scan any of it to show you, I must share some of the phrases that brought tears to my eyes.
One girl ended her letter by saying, “If anything ever happens to you, I will always be there for you.” One boy ended his letter with, “We will be happy to have another member of the class.” A girl said, ‘I will teach you how to do something you like to do at school.” Such tender hearts!
Abbie looked carefully at each photograph, and was excited to hear how many of her classmates also enjoy reading, math, and music. At first, she will mostly see her classmates on the playground, but I am even more hopeful now that she will not be lonely out there! What a precious, long-awaited gift they have to give Abbie, and what fills my heart is that they realize it, I think. They glimpse the special role they may play in a very special girl’s life.
God is good!