I'm still not really sure how I feel about Cora's medical results. I guess, it is what it is and I can't change it so I had better make the best of it. When Heavenly Father asks you to stand in rough or strange places then you put you best foot forward. If Heavenly Father asks you to perform strange and bizarre sounding tasks, then do them with grateful hands, regardless. I've been asked to stand here and I am going to make the best of it.
A good Spokane friend of mine, Margo, said that it's ok to mourn the hope or vision of Cora's life that I once had. It made me feel somewhat relieved to hear that because I was feeling slightly guilty thinking that way, even selfish I guess. The second child typically catches on to the things quicker and learns quicker and achieves milestones quicker because they have the older sibling to watch and learn from. Because Kimball was a preemie he was always a tad behind in his milestones - he crawled at 10 months and walked at 16 months. I assumed Cora would be right on the "normal" or even earlier getting to watch Kimball and trying to do everything he does. That certainly won't be the case. Physically she's still like a newborn - she smiles but doesn't laugh or anything audible, she doesn't roll over, her head is still quite floppy, she can't grab toys or play with them at all, she sleeps more than average, etc. just like a newborn. She will be in therapy for years if not for the rest of her life. She may not go to a main stream school, she may be bullied, she may have severe social anxieties and challenges, she will have a difficult time talking. She may not do birthday parties or sleep overs or dances or proms or any of the fun social things that kids and teenagers do. There is a lot she will have trouble doing or simply cannot do at all. But we are intervening early, giving her the best care we can, and seeking the best doctors and treatment available. We love her so much!
I didn't imagine having or raising a special needs child but now that I'm in that category I am even more in awe and amazed at those parents who do it on a daily basis and who do it with more than one child. It is difficult and I'm at the easy stage! It is easier to appreciate and love those children. Not that we love them any more than other children, but it's a different kind of love. We live deeper lives of acceptance. I'm not sure how to explain it exactly. I mean, when was the last time you saw a downs syndrome child and didn't smile? Their happiness is contagious!
I get to experience a joy of something that's a little bit different in my life. I get to find fulfillment and joy in someone who because of their life, brings deeper meaning to worth and life itself. I get to focus more on the simple and pure pleasures of existence.
Elder Timothy J. Dyches: "As we draw near to Him, we realize that mortality is meant to be difficult and that 'opposition in all things' (2 Nephi 2:11) is not a flaw in the plan of salvation. Opposition, rather, is the indispensable element of mortality and strengthens our will and refines our choices."
And so there may not be a lot of things that are normal or average for Cora but I'm choosing to focus on the things she can do. Right now, she has the darn cutest smile and is very social. She loves watching Kimball and anything he does. Her smile is quite contagious and can make you giddy inside. Her spirit lights up a room and just by looking at her, I'm reminded of the simple life we should all live. For a person who is pessimistic by nature, I've been trying really hard to focus on the good.
This was a texting conversation between Bonnie and I the other day:
Bonnie: All I can say is that you are handling this soooooooo much better than I would be. I probably would have set fire to the doctor's office by now. You're a good example of keeping it together.
Me: Oh gosh, you should see me at home! It is hard but it's what I've been handed and I have to make the best of it. Rain or shine. And sometimes we have a lot of cloudy days.
Bonnie: It's ok if it's hard for you at home, or if you have to cry sometimes. That doesn't mean you aren't holding up. It's ok to have a bad day, or many bad days in a row. That is what Elder Packer says, and I trust that he knows what he's talking about. You're doing a really good job though. I can see that you were meant to be Cora's mom.
Me: Oh stop! You're gonna make me cry!
Bonnie: No, it is true though. I've really been touched by your quiet strength. Like I said, I would have burned down doctor's offices by now just out of sheer frustration.
Me: I have been tempted.
This conversation got me thinking about quiet strength and where I draw strength from. I draw a little bit from Lance's arms, a little bit from Bonnie's comments, a little bit from Margo's comments, a little bit from Mom and Dad's comments, a lot from priesthood blessings, and a lot from the Lord. Various people have said things that for the most part I really ponder the conversations I have and draw strength from them. Also, from the lady at the cardio's office whose son had a heart transplant. I'm just so thankful for people all around me, even those that aren't physically around me like our families. I've met and made some great friendships in Spokane. People in our ward, good doctors who actually take time for their patients, friends who watch Kimball while I take Cora to her appointments, therapists who invest time in Cora, strangers that I meet in office waiting rooms, nurses who are genuine and sincere. I draw strength from the scriptures. I draw strength from the words of living prophets and apostles. I thank you, all of those who've taken time to ask questions, give advice, give comfort and reassurance, and share your faith and love!
I truly believe that Heavenly Father answers our prayers through other people and I'm so thankful for the people he's put into my path this past year. I wonder if we all shouldn't wonder every morning, "Who's prayer can I answer today?" and then act on revelation to serve people around us whether we know them or not.
D&C 45:7 For verily I say unto you that I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the light and the life of the world - a light that shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.
Alma 11:39 And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last;
40 And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else.
I don't know how Cora's life will be like or even the middle, or heck, I don't even know what tomorrow will be like. But the Lord does know the beginning and the end and I put my trust in Him.