On Easter Sunday, congregations around the world will come together to celebrate the resurrection. Families will gather and children will hunt for eggs in celebration of our risen King. The empty grave is certainly worth celebrating but I wonder if in our focus on Easter Sunday, we are too quick to forget about the darkness of Good Friday and the people who are sitting in it this weekend.
Most people still don’t understand that epilepsy can be fatal and is actually a leading cause of death. Families like mine are very aware of the statistics. We know that we could lose our children while they sleep and that every seizure could be their last. Madeleine’s death was still a devastating shock though. She was a vibrant 16-year-old with her life ahead of her and a family that adored her.
When I see a grieving mother being viciously attacked by strangers after she watched her toddler be stolen by a wild animal, I know that it is not safe to write about my own, lesser struggles. When I see a woman who loses her child in a crowd for a moment, and then almost loses him forever to a gorilla, be held up as an unfit mother undeserving of parenthood, I am afraid that I’ll be destroyed for my own shortcomings. When I read that a mother is told she should have aborted her children and deserves to die because she publishes a rant on sunscreen, I worry that sharing my truth will open my family up to similar terror.
Tonight I sat on the couch with my broken little girl and held her while she cried. Tonight we watched a movie and held a puppy while we waited for the grief to subside. Tonight, once again, I told her that it’s OK to hurt.
Today is the two year anniversary of my life as Humpty Dumpty. On December 11, 2013, I stood in a WalMart parking lot and answered the phone call that changed everything. That was the day that I broke.
Someone asked me recently if I thought that everyone who wants children should consider adoption. I am absolutely an advocate for adoption but I found myself pausing before I answered. The problem is that sometimes when we promote adoption and highlight the happy families it can create, we gloss over the darker side. The truth is that every tearjerker story about a family being brought together starts with another story of absolute devastation. Our children are not simply gifted to us, they are taken or abandoned or orphaned first. Sometimes the love of a new family helps to heal the wounds of that loss; sometimes it isn’t enough.
Children rarely grow up to be exactly what their parents pictured. Many parents struggle to accept that their kids have chosen different paths. The difference is that parents of special needs children grieve because the different paths were not chosen by our children; they were forced on them.