Welcome to Day 30 of the 31 Days of Random Reflections on Raising and Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs. You can find the main page for this series here.
When I was in the third grade, a fellow classmate was hit by a car on his walk home for lunch and was killed. It was the first time I understood that children can die — not just old people.
It affected me so deeply.
I thought about his mother who was waiting across the street and witnessed the whole thing. My little 8-year old self experienced deep empathy for a person I didn’t know but imagined could have been my own mother. For many weeks I cried myself to sleep imagining a funeral, a burial, and a tombstone of a little child. How does a mother continue to live, I wondered?
Of course, as any young child does, I went on with my life thinking this is something that happens to other people, not to us. Not to me.
I had the naive idea that I was untouchable because I was a good girl.
I don’t have any connection with this family today, but I think of them often. I thought of this mother the week my son was born. I officially experienced an ounce of her pain when I found that the dream I had for my son was taken from me. I was not untouchable after all.
I am not untouchable, still.
No one is.
When my days are heavy and dark, I ask God: What I’m meant to learn from this? And, why do I have so many darned lessons to learn? I’m still that good 8-year old girl. Why so much to handle?
If my lesson was to slow down, I did. I left a stressful job to care and homeschool my son.
If my lesson was to be patient, I am. I sit by my son 24/7 when he’s ill.
If my lesson was to be compassionate — I am. My heart bleeds for mothers and fathers suffering great pain and I pray for them each night.
What is my lesson? I ask.
Every so often, God sends me an answer in the form of an email. (He’s modern like that.)
Every so often I hear from a parent I never heard from before telling me how she’s read everything I’ve written, or how she is praying for us, or how I have helped her through difficult homeschool days.
God expects me to continue living slowly, patiently, and compassionately through service of my son. He asks that I sit by him and endure the suffering with him. He wants me to feed him, bathe him, love him. He is showing me that through being present for him, I am touching others (and I don’t even have to meet them in person).
That boy’s mother so many years ago may have no idea how much her son’s passing affected my life. He was not nothing just like my son is not nothing. She likely fed him and bathed him and loved him just like I do my own 8-year old today. He was not untouchable, but he certainly touched my life.
As I come to the end of this series, I ask that you reflect on your life as you care and homeschool your child with special needs. Is it mundane? Is it same old, same old? Is it full of worry and anxiety? Is it down-right depressing some days? Are you watching the whole world fly by while you seem to be stuck in cement?
Your life was not untouchable. Your child was not untouchable. But, know that you, fellow parent and colleague, are touching lives everyday — even in your yoga pants. Someone is watching you and you are touching their life every single day — even as you suffer. Never think you are nothing. Never think your child is nothing. Never think your homeschool plans are for not.
You are touching my life by simply reading these words.