sorrow and joy...hand in hand...

These past few days have been busy, filled with little chores and BIG ones, projects around the house, cleaning and organizing, all preparations leading to the big day next week, Miss Courtney's graduation. Mixed in with all the busyness there have been the regular goings on with meetings to attend and duties to perform and a lovely young lady to care for daily.

My emotions have been up and down as I prepare to say goodbye to Miss Court's school and the incredible staff that has loved her and cared for her everyday these past severn and a half years. Then there are moments like last night's cheese nightmare to remind me to slow down and pay attention to the details so mistakes are less likely to happen.

In the midst of all the craziness, life does go on and things happen both good and bad. Friday evening I received the news that one of  Miss Courtney's former classmates had passed away. Teddy Richardson was 24 years old when he left this earth last week. He was such an incredible young man, his body crippled with cerebral palsy but his spirit was incredibly strong and joyful. He was always smiling and a laugh was not far behind. He exuded joy every single day of his life.

Today was his funeral and oh, what a celebration of life. There was music that he loved and Scripture read that spoke to the power of God's love and the Beatitudes were read. Then Father Stefan spoke about how the world saw Teddy as broken but God sees him as whole and beautiful.

Then he asked for us to bow our heads and say a prayer for the parents that at this moment would be welcoming a little Teddy into their world. Today they would be given a diagnosis that will feel like a death sentence for their child. He asked for prayers for those parents whose lives would be changed forever on this day, changed by a love that would surpass their own understanding.

I bowed my head and was overwhelmed in the moment.

I am one of those parents.

I have one of those children.

I lived through one of those days, when the world tilted sideways and all I thought that would be was turned on it's head and took a different direction. One I was wholly unprepared for in that moment but one that I am so grateful for almost 20 year later.

On my way home I thought about the day when everything changed.

I thought about all the lessons God has taught me and my family since then. So many lessons.

Then I considered what would I say to that parent who is sitting there holding their child, a piece of their heart breaking for what they thought would be a "normal" life.

You did nothing wrong - There are some things that happen in life that no one understands. We live in a fallen world. The only perfection that exists is Christ Jesus. He allows certain situations so that His glory and love may shine through. He needs the world to see what a pure soul looks like. One that will never offend God. Children like Courtney and Teddy are His special messengers of love and compassion. They teach us every single day what this life is all about. Love and only love. To serve a cause greater than ourself. You can't be around them and not be filled with joy. It says in the Gospel of John 9:1-5-
"As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.  We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”

Believe me when I say the "works of God" will indeed be worked-- not only in your child but in those who walk this path with them. You may think you life is over...but know that indeed, it is just begun.

You will grieve for what you have lost and you will celebrate the gift of what you have in this child God has blessed you with - It will take time to make the mental switch from grief of a normal path to joy in a new path. One day you will be weeping and the next you will be celebrating some milestone of achievement be it a a smile or a laugh, something that the world sees as small, we mothers of these special ones see as a flippin' miracle. When Courtney took her first assisted steps, she was seven years old. SEVEN! I wept that day rejoicing that she could do it, no matter how long it took. She did it.

You will take your time as each milestone approaches. Grieve what could have been then rejoice in what is. Because there is JOY in what is. Even if you can't see it now on this day of grief...know that there will be joy.

You are strong enough and smart enough to carry this child through the life ahead - The medical terms will overwhelm you. The dire predictions will break your heart. But know this...YOU were given the gift of THIS child. God doesn't make mistake my friend. He NEEDS you to love this child, protect and guide this child no matter what the diagnosis is. This child is part of His plan for your life and those that this child will impact. I speak from experience, these children touch people deep within the hidden parts of their souls. They lead them to may be the first prayer they have ever said in their lives.

There will be ups and downs - sometimes in the same 24 hours. You will weep and you will rejoice. You will pray as you never have before. You will trust God in a new way. Your relationships will change hopefully strengthening as you and your family come together as a team of support and love for this child. When the doctors tell you the end is near, get on your knees and entrust your child to the throne of Our Lord. For they do not belong to us. We only have them for a little while. ALL children belong to God alone. We are the caretakers of love, so we give them back to the One who Created them.

Their life is a gift. Don't ever forget that.  You can do this...Philippians 4:13 "I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

LOVE them...just love them...every - We have been through it all. Failed medical tests, dismal diagnosis, near death and barely clinging to life. You name it--Courtney has gone through it. I have learned a few things along the way. Housekeeping is important but storytime trumps that. When I stand before God all that matters is if I loved as He directed me. So you wrap your arms around your child, your miracle and you LOVE them with everything you have. They may never say the words "Mama' or "Daddy" but they will love you no matter and it is vital to their very survival that they know you love. So whatever it takes...just love...

There is much more I would say to that new Mom and Dad but those three things are what floated to the top of my heart this afternoon. Thank you Teddy for reminding me that joy and sorrow go hand in hand in this life. I know your Mama would give anything to hold you one more time, to hear your great yell one more time, to see your smile one more time.

But you know what?  Her heart is full because you are now free and your body is no longer wracked with pain and your lungs no longer struggle to take in air. You are whole and beautiful, running, laughing and dancing with the King. You are where we are all meant to be...with God for an eternity of JOY that surpasses ALL understanding.

So yes we grieve your loss, but we rejoice in your resurrection. Thank you for reminding me what is true and what is good...LOVE and only LOVE...

May you rest in peace my sweet friend...thank you for letting us love you...

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