Originally posted June 2018
Today’s story is from a friend of mine back in the days of Provo when my husband and I thought we should buy a duplex right before he went to MBA school at BYU and would have no income! But it was worth it because we met some of the most amazing people. And Sarah is one of them. The last time we really saw each other was not too long after she had her twin boys. I remember her sharing her testimony one Sunday when she was towards the end of her pregnancy and just hoping to keep them in as long as possible. She is a woman of great faith. I hope you will love reading her story about her darling daughter Rachel.
“On August 20, 2018, an angel fell from heaven. After having four boys and three miscarriages, I finally got my girl that I had been praying for! When my boys came to the hospital to see their new sister, I knew our family was complete. Rachel was a very healthy baby, weighing in at 9’7. My pregnancy was normal. I had two ultrasounds just to make sure she was a girl and all her physical stats were great. It wasn’t until about a year after she was born that we realized something was different about her.
She was very slow at hitting her milestones. It took her a while to sit up, and by the end of a year she was nowhere near to walking. I took her to the doctor and he recommended Kids On The Move, a program for children with disabilities. It kind of took me back because I never thought one of my kids would have a disability. I had never been around handicapped children or those who were different, let alone having one of my own. I told my boys that she might be “special” which is another word for handicapped. They were all worried, but her sweet personality made up for it. As I got home from the doctor they were all eager to hear what I found out. I said, “Yep, she’s special!” with a smile on my face.
From then on, we fully accepted it that she would have a disability and wouldn’t be the typical girl that we were all expecting. It was really hard at first to accept the fact that the daughter my husband and I wanted so much wasn’t going to be “normal”. One night as I was driving home from the grocery store, alone in the car, I thought about her life and just started crying. I cried for the loss of the bride I would have had, the daughter who would never be a mom, the achievements of success she would have had as a mother, a wife, etc. I cried for all the times she would be stared at or looked at as different. I cried for the birthday parties she wouldn’t get invited to, the play dates that all the neighborhood kids would have without her, never seeing her drive her first car at sweet 16, or go on dates with the boys she loved. I cried for an hour and drove home. After that night, the daughter I thought I would have was gone. From then on I accepted the fact that I have a daughter with a disability and that’s ok. I didn’t know at that time how wonderful it would actually be!
Rachel has an intellectual disability. She doesn’t mimic, which was one of the signs we noticed when she was a baby. She is nonverbal and says probably a handful of words. Most of the time we all know what she wants and guess at what she is trying to express. She can say yes or no and knows a lot of sign language. Rachel is very expressive, makes a lot of noise, and speaks of everything around her world without saying anything! She has been tested for autism, but teachers and therapists have diagnosed her with an intellectual disability.
Rachel is very social, very much a girlie girl, and now at almost ten years old, she is slowly progressing at a preschool level. When she meets kids her age that don’t understand why she is different, I explain to them that she has a disability and is on a preschool level. So I tell them just to treat her like they would their little sister. She is in a Life-skills class in a public regular ed. school. There are about nine children with disabilities in her class of ages first to sixth grade. Rachel will be going into fifth grade this year! The other students in her school love to come and get her to go to music and art. They love to mother her and she feels so special in her school.
Most of the time we know what Rachel wants and needs. She is on a strict routine and prefers to be in familiar surroundings. She loves her i-pad, hates going to church( like every kid, haha) and loves to ride the bus to school. She has a sassy attitude and the aides at school call her “miss sassy pants”.
Most of the time we forget that she has disability because she is very well-mannered, doesn’t have any behavioral issues, and for the most part is easy going. However, sometimes at school she goes through stages of disobedience. She thinks its funny to
tease her peers and when the teacher tells her to stop it just feeds the fire. Right now she is in the people pleasing stage so she is on her best behavior at school.
I would say the hardest challenge was trying to potty train her. She didn’t get potty trained until she was eight! With a lot of persistence it finally came, and my boys are now experts at changing diapers!
Besides the challenges, the best part of having Rachel in our home is that she is a Celestial being. Spiritually, our home is filled with a sense of safety, peace, and serenity because of her. She has taught my boys how to have traits like the Savior, Jesus Christ: faith, hope, charity, and love. The Savior has taught us to be like a child: humble, meek, submissive, etc. Since Rachel will always be like a child, her lessons that go unspoken have taught my boys more about the gospel than any other source.
A couple months ago, I was reflecting on her birth. I remember shaking uncontrollably on the operating table before anything had happened. The nurses and doctor were making comments about how nervous I was. Now that I look back on it, I can see that my physical body could not contain her huge spirit! I have had feelings of who Rachel was before she came here, and there is no doubt that she is a spiritual warrior who stands for truth and righteousness. She is a spiritual giant who I hope to be like in the eternities to come.
She has shown me things that are not of this world, that are unexplainable and spiritual in nature. Because of her, I currently help teach adaptive p.e. in the school system and have decided to pursue my education in special ed. When Heavenly Father heard my prayers for a daughter to bless our home, I know it was by no mistake that he sent us Rachel just the way she is supposed to be. She is the anchor of our home, the light and sunshine in our darkness, and the tender mercy that we will be with this celestial being forever. She has taught me more about the Savior than I could ever imagine. Because of her I have a hope that the Savior heals and I can’t wait until that glorious day when he heals her infirmities and she can tell me all about what she could never say here on earth. I’m sure we will be laughing!”
In the movie Stuart Little, Stuart’s father talks to him about finding the Silver Lining. At first it was hard to see, but by the end of the movie it was very clear. Sometimes initially when a challenge is presented in our lives it can be hard to see the silver lining. But Heavenly Father shows us the silver linings daily if we look. I’m so grateful to Sarah for sharing her story. Children are such a tender blessing from our Father in Heaven. And how lucky her family is to have an angel living with them here on earth. And how lucky are we when we take the time to get to know these precious spirits.
May this week bring an awareness of your silver linings.
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