I know I probably shouldn’t feel this way, but I still struggle at times when I start praying and thinking about our son, Jeffrey. Yes, he’s now 24 years-old and is able to live somewhat independently, but quite frankly I can’t wait for the day when the lame will leap like a deer (Isaiah 35:6), and there will no longer be pain, suffering or sorrow (Revelation 21:4).
Raising children in general is difficult, isn’t it? And raising a special needs child is even more so. There are so many things that you don’t even think about until they happen, and your heart breaks again and again as you see progress, and then things just get worse. It just seems like there’s always something that gets dropped on you, and if it wasn’t for Jesus, I probably would have had a nervous breakdown a long time ago!
After Gary and I had returned home from our trip to see his sister Linda before her death (Oh No, More Pain On The Way – But Also Relief!), we now needed to get back to focusing on our little boy, Jeffrey.
As he continued his many weekly therapies, we were beginning to see some glimmers of real improvement. The therapists had been working on getting Jeffrey’s legs and trunk stronger, and now he was starting to stand upright a short period of time by holding onto a walker – he even was able to take a few steps! Surely, I thought, it would only be a matter of time before he would be able to walk.
But of course then came the complications. His therapists informed us that his little body was very “unique.” I have come to really hate that word!
In the case of Jeffrey, what the therapists meant was because of his quadriplegic cerebral palsy, his left arm and and hand worked pretty well, however his right arm and hand were very stiff. Then, his right leg functioned fairly well, but his left leg had a lot of spasticity in it. Bottom line: This created a body that was very lopsided and difficult to control. As Jeffrey continued to grow in height, it became harder and harder for him to hold his little body upright and take steps.
I struggled as I continued to see him having such a difficult time holding himself upright, especially since some of his little friends that had similar disabilities seemed to be getting stronger and more able to control themselves. We finally had to break down and buy him his first wheelchair… I couldn’t help myself when many times I would find myself thinking, “IT’S NOT FAIR!!!”
But then again, that was taking my eyes off our great God, wasn’t it? After all, Psalm 139:13 tells us that God himself knits our bodies together in the womb. Was I thinking that He made a mistake? No, I didn’t – it just hurt because I could see in his little face that he so wanted to do so much more than he was able to do!
When Jeffrey turned 3 years-old, we enrolled him in a special needs preschool class at the elementary school. And, as with his birth-to-three class (Continuing Forward), we were so blessed as to have wonderful teachers that had such hearts for all the specially unique children that were placed in their class every year. It seemed as if they were always encouraging us, and the love they shared was so very special.
Then came kindergarten…