Those are just three of a million feelings buzzing around my head and bursting from my heart at this small moment in time.
I spent over an hour with tears in my eyes, tonight, as I sat with my husband and watched our three children dance to Christmas music and decorate the tree. They were the tears of someone who was watching a Christmas miracle unfold before her.
Had you peered through the window during this magical hour, you would have smiled as you observed three siblings, handing one another ornaments and taking turns hanging them. You wouldn’t have seen anything miraculous- just an everyday family having fun carrying out a tradition. But to me, that description in and of itself is a miracle!
“…watching our three children…”
“…just an everyday family…”
There was a point, not long ago, when my husband and I didn’t know if we’d ever use those words to describe a moment like this.
Had you peered into that same window one year ago today, you’d have witnessed a very different scene playing out in front of the very same tree. In that very room where two siblings decorated excitedly, a third sat off to the side, uninvolved and unaware. That third child had no idea what she was missing, and her family had no idea how to “reach” her. She lived in a world where she was perpetually lost to what was happening around her.
That lost child was our daughter Piper at three years old, just before she was diagnosed with Autism.
To truly understand the miracle of seeing all of your children work together, you must first understand the heartbreak of seeing your own child, who was once such a bubbly, joyful baby, so disengaged during a time that is supposed to be magical and exciting. You have to recognize the countless hours of work that have gone into creating such a moment, and along with it, the people who have given of themselves to make it happen.
Over and over, I’ve read stories of parents who have found their “tribe” and until tonight, I didn’t realize that as a family, we’ve found ours. Right now, our tribe is the handful of incredible individuals who have made it their lives’ passion to helping our little girl. They are her teachers and her therapists, and I am immensely grateful for each of them.
From an outside perspective, one might say that they are paid professionals, doing their job. Piper is living proof that they are so much more. Consider the teacher who, after a particularly painful morning, when I left in tears after Piper kicked, screamed, and sobbed at dropoff, texted me pictures of her smiling face throughout the day, along with a beautiful quote. Next, consider another teacher, who slipped up and said “I love you” instead of “Goodbye” when I picked my daughter up for Thanksgiving break. Also, consider Piper’s therapist, who took time out of her day off to meet me for coffee, not to discuss Piper, but to simply be a friend.
These are people who work selflessly, celebrate life’s small victories with us, and make each day brighter. They aren’t just helping Piper. The “ripple effect” of what they do is enormous. Because of them, moms and dads witness true miracles. Brothers and sisters build true relationships and bonds. Grandparents are able to see their grandchildren light up with love, and their own children relax and enjoy small moments of immense joy, where there was once sadness and fear. That ripple continues to spread onward and outward, and in doing so, life gets better.
Tonight, I extend love and gratitude to our tribe. You have become family to Piper, and to us. I need nothing more to complete this holiday season. You’ve given me a true miracle- a gift that I will carry and look back on as our beautiful journey continues.