Thank You For My Christmas Miracle

Humbled.
Awestruck.
Grateful.

 

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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If the shoe fits…shine it!

As individuals, we all have some small way that we dress or accessorize so regularly that it becomes a part of our identity. My husband, for example, never goes without an undershirt, even when he’s wearing just a basic tee shirt. I’ve come to lovingly refer to it as his “shell”. Similarly, I’m known for my brightly-colored sneakers. I started wearing them to liven up my mandatory uniform of dark scrubs. My collection grew as I noticed the favorable reaction of the patients I encounter on a daily basis. I work with chronic pain patients, and nearly every one of them starts a conversation about my choice of footwear. Somewhere along the line, I realized that if by being known for wearing crazy shoes, I am able to take their minds off of their pain, even if for just moments at a time, perhaps I’m bringing something good to their day. And so I’ve embraced that identity, and with it, I’ve grown my collection of eclectic footwear (often to my husband’s dismay)!

More recently, though, a seed was planted into my mind. Some recent life-changing and enlightening experiences as they pertain to friendship have grown that seed into a fun little revelation that I’m now ready to share. From the depths of my ever-churning brain, I present to you the many ways I believe friendship is like a pair of shoes!

  • In childhood, your caretaker will pick your shoes out for you until you are deemed old enough to choose for yourself. This selection will be based on their potential for comfort, durability, and overall good fit for your lifestyle. With this guidance, you may be lucky enough to find a few early on that you continue to invest in through the years, without fail, because they are tried and true. You may also “stick it to the man” and end up with a pair of combat boots that, while people just don’t understand, stick with you season after season. You may accumulate a plethora, each one fantastic in a different way. You may also prefer to go barefoot at some stage in your life.
  • You will try on a LOT of different shoes until you find the perfect fit. Some will fit “okay”, but will never leave you feeling just right. Then, there will be shoes that you want so desperately to fit, but they will leave you blistered and sore. The time will come when you finally realize you have to stop forcing what just isn’t a good fit for you.
  • It doesn’t matter who you are, how successful you’ve become, or how much money you’ve got in the bank to go shopping- not even the fanciest, most top-of-the-line shoe is necessarily right for your fit and lifestyle.
  • Are you familiar with the saying about “a reason, a season, or a lifetime”? ┬áSome shoes are appropriate for certain occasions. It’s okay to enjoy them, but wear them sparingly. Moreover, don’t expect them to remain practical once the occasion has come and gone.
  • Other people will wear and love the same shoes that you wear and love, and you have to understand that that’s okay. If they are truly the best fit for you, someone else loving them as well doesn’t make them any less perfect for you. Besides, you can’t wear the same shoes day in and day out. It’s just not healthy for your feet. They need to breathe.
  • On the flip side, sometimes you will loan a pair of shoes to someone, and when you get them back (if you get them back, because sometimes you won’t), they’re just not the same. Maybe there’s a hole somewhere that wasn’t there before. Maybe they’re stretched out into the shape of another foot, and just don’t seem to form back to your feet the way they once did. Say goodbye with grace, my friend. They just weren’t the perfect shoe you always thought they were.
  • Should you have children, you might find that the shoes that seemed so perfect before may make your feet feel cramped and uncomfortable. They just aren’t practical. They’re still ready for you to drop everything and head to the club, and you’re over here like “where are my flip flops? I can’t even bend over and tie sneakers with this screaming baby pulling my hair!” Don’t write those shoes off just yet. Though it doesn’t feel like it, those days of being constantly needed will pass, or at least become less frequent. I have a feeling you will squeeze into those shoes for more than a few more good nights once all the chaos dies down!
  • New shoes always seem shiny, bright, and exciting. However, the stains and frays from the journey become more telling than the out of the box condition.
  • You will always have one or two pair of shoes that feel just right, no matter what the occasion, or how long it has been since you have worn them.
  • Your choice of shoes is a direct reflection of you, and one that people will notice. Be proud of your choice, and all that went into making it.MY LAST TWO THOUGHTS ON THIS MATTER ARE MY MOST PROFOUND!
  • If you don’t take care of your shoes, they will not take care of you. If you treat them like they are cheap and expendable, their lifespan will be short.
  • Most importantly, all shoes aside, you really have to take care of the feet wearing them. After all, they are irreplaceable.