If there’s one, good thing about a metaphorical broken slipper, it’s the disguised benefits.
Who would have expected a sweet, cute-as-pie, daughter (metaphoric slipper) with a head full of brown hair to suffer in so many ways? Not me, but struggle she did. No real friends (in the traditional sense), a difficult time academically, no drivers license, no independence, no deciding a career, no chance of marriage, no chance of children… (Insert violin)
This story gets better. My daughter, Leslie, suffers with intellectual disabilities, but – have mercy – she has had some of the most amazing experiences that developed some pretty miraculous abilities. Please come with me as I recount the winding road leading to the greatest breakthrough of all time. (Well in our lives, anyway)
As a young girl, Leslie loved her dollhouse! She would sit and play for an hour, which was the longest anything held her attention.
Once her Aunt Hope passed (see first blog post), she and I both spun a tad from reality. I escaped to my writing and Leslie to her dollhouse.
She came up with the names for her sundry, plastic family. Daddy doll, Mommy doll, Sister One, Sister Two, Baby, Brother One, Dog, Babysitter, well, you get the picture.
Leslie had allergies and experienced every symptom possible. Runny nose, fever, bad mood, dispelling of the um, we’ll call them clots, in her throat in the most unpleasant way. Ick, let’s quickly move on. Anyway, she would be a downright, miserable, messy gal, a LOT.
I would sit by her bed many days, reading, catching clots and administering medicine. I read a lot of princess books during those times. I would purchase as many as were available at Bible bookstores, because I wanted Leslie to learn, first and foremost, that she was a princess of God – the truest of all princesses. If she had no hopes of her dreams coming true here, I was gonna make sure she focused on the place where they WOULD come true.
Honestly, I didn’t know what else to do.
I had no idea how to make it all okay. I was losing my battle of keeping a positive attitude.
On some of our most daunting days, I would entertain the notion that an angel or two stood in our midst. Purely to ensure my sanity and Leslie’s resolve, I’d imagine that they were sent straight from the Throne of God.
As I continued to sit by her bed, and read those exciting stories, I began to believe them down deep in my heart, and Leslie began to live them.
One day while Leslie sat at her dollhouse, I sat reading a book.
My fictitious story was interrupted when I heard Leslie say, “I’m sorry, Sister Two, you may not sit in that angel’s lap.” From the corner of my eye, I witnessed her assist Sister One in giving Sister Two a swift elbow to the head. “Thank you very much.” Leslie glanced at me and then back to the unfortunate tift. “He said he was here for Leslie.”
I closed my book. “Leslie! That’s not nice. Where did you learn such?”
The dolls fell from her hands as she obviously staggered from make believe to the real world. “I’m sorry, Mommy. I didn’t do it.”
“I think you did.” I put aside my book and slipped to the floor.
“Are you going to play with me?” Leslie grabbed Mommy doll, and held her out as an offering.
I accepted her proffer, and assessed the situation.
Sister One had Sister Two trapped in the bathroom until she promised to never throw Dog out the window, ever again. Poor Baby hung haphazardly from her highchair by one foot. Brother One and Brother Two dangled from their horse and bicycle like a couple of circus clowns.
Starting with the most important, I said, “Leslie, I think you should help Baby into her highchair. All the blood is running to her head.”
Leslie grabbed Baby and threw her into the air.
“Well, honey, why’d you do that?” I said, my eyes following the tiny infant until she fell onto a heart-shaped pillow nearby.
“Ah, he’ll catch her. He’s better at putting her in there.” She said very quickly. Her speed-talking was one of the major reasons we struggled to understand her.
I looked up. “Who’ll catch her?”
“The one in the book.” She pointed to a book that I had yet to read her.
I dismissed her comments, because, like I said in my first blog, we had eased into a groove of not taking Leslie for everything she said. I assumed she was just saying something to answer my question and get off the hook.
Later that day, I sat reading her that very book. My lips halted, heart skipping a beat, I stared blankly at the words. “He shall keep watch over you. If you stumble he’ll be there. If you fall he’ll pick you up.” Yep, you guessed it. The accompanying picture was of an angel catching a falling child.
I know what you’re thinking, because I told myself the same thing. She must have looked at the book at some point when I was unaware, and saw the angel waiting to catch the child. But, you must remember, Leslie’s vision was poor, her cognitive level was very low, and, at that time, she almost never picked up a book. Many times, I couldn’t even get her to look at the pictures while I read.
When testing, she was required to look at picture after picture and give an accounting, so she avoided them at all cost. Even if she had looked at the book, it was a miracle she had understood the concept.
So, I thanked God for her progress, knowing one thing for sure, He was at the heart of her understanding.
You are welcome to interpret these stories as you see fit. I have many times, myself. But, as time crawled by, I began to think more and more, “What if?”