Living the life of a special needs parent who is active in networking with other families, and making this difficult journey with them... comes with some pitfalls. The heaviest is losing other special angels and attending their funerals. I hate that I have a "funeral dress" now. I rarely wear it for any other occasion now. And that is just plain sad in so many ways.
Today we said good-bye to one of our special friends, Millicent "Millie" Bradley. We met the Bradley family when they were hospitalized just after Gustav the same time we were, and Millie got her trach the same time we did... so we have called them trach twins since that time. The Bradley family was already blessed with additional healthy children, and so this fragile baby that was given to them was a new journey they weren't ready for. So I share with them a copy of the Emily Pearl Kingsley poem "Welcome to Holland", and with my usual artistic flair, made it "pretty" with some pictures of tulips and windmills. Turns out, they liked it so much they had it framed, and gave us our own framed copy of it too.
I wondered if I have been there "enough" for the family... somehow I've made it my duty to ensure families facing this loss know they are loved, have a chance to make lasting memories and keepsakes, and help them find a peace. Really, I know that only God can give them all those things, but if he can use me as his hands and feet - there I will follow and remain submitted. I try to be the "strong one" for these families, but I wasn't prepared to be so emotionally hit today before I even walked into the viewing. I was so touched to see that the birthday gift we sent Millicent for her LIFE CELEBRATION was on display. I sent a kit for them to make a garden stone to capture Millie's handprint and footprint, a treasured keepsake. It knocked the breath out of me and overwhelmed my soul to see this affirmation that indeed it would be a treasured. Thank you Jesus for letting me be your vessel.
Today as I watched the people pour into the funeral home, pour into the church, and make the pilgrimage to the cemetery... I was taken aback at how many people were touched by this sweet little girl, who was always smiling, but never once uttered a word.
Read that again, and let the words sink in: Millicent never uttered a word in her whole life.
A child who never was able to breathe a word, could light up the room with her beautiful smile, with such exuberance that others longed to know her and be near her. So many people took the time to say good-bye to this child who had made an impact on their life. That has to be GOD's will... for the simple SPIRIT of a child to touch people's lives. WOW! The power of God just blows me away!!
My only hope is that Braden too will touch many people in ways that make them better people. I know he has made ME a better person, a better friend, and give me a more compassionate heart for the trials others face. But as the parent of a child who never attended school, never made friends on the playground and cannot fully express himself, I wonder about the impact he may have on others.
While I hate to say good-bye to another special angel... my heart is full of the promise that Millicent is now fully restored, dancing and singing in the streets of heaven - watching over us, and waiting for us to join her. I know her parents, like we do, must long for the day to hear their beautiful child be able to express in words and action how much she loves them. This promise is one that keeps me going on the tough days.