Monday, May 24, 2010

pictures courtesy of my talented friend Kristin
A feeling of dread overtakes me about 8 AM on Saturday. Its not a fact I am proud of, this is one of those dirty confessions of the "ugly" inside of me. I am selfish and grumpy and slow to relinquish my time on the weekend. But I have committed, signed-up, said I would be there.
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Our church hosts a Respite Care night once a month. 60+ children with special needs pour through our doors for 4 hours of respite. Respite for them with fresh faces and fresh toys and fun. Respite for their parents for a date night without children. These sweet kiddos and amazing parents don't get much respite and it is much deserved.
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I complain inside and out loud much of Saturday. "Remind me not to sign-up again, I'm so tired on the weekends, I need to clean the house..." there's more, much more. True confessions, I'm sorry to say.
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We pile in the car as the time draws close. As we drive Carolyn chimes in from the back seat "I just love Respite Care!" That's good, good for her, good for me to hear.
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The parents begin to arrive as we wait in the lobby with a sea of volunteers, each anticipating a little friend for the evening. Our little friend arrives. Cerebral palsy has left this sweet blond boy in a wheelchair unable to speak, and yet he claps and signs excitedly as he points toward the toy room. Clearly he "just loves Respite Care" too.
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My two little girls are quick to help and push his wheelchair in unison. And we're off.
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After toys and music has been had for some time, we head for some dinner of fish crackers and pizza. Carolyn fetches more crackers as he quickly gobbles them up, clearly a favorite of our little friend. The girls happily eat alongside and try to think of other fun things to fill the night.
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As the evening wears on and we've played in all of the spaces we can think to take our little friend, Julia stops the chair. He is signing "I want" over and over. She leans in close "What do you want?" she gently asks several times. And suddenly he throws his arms around her in a big bear hug. She seems happy to oblige and hugs him back. Love, apparently, needs neither legs that run nor mouths that speak.
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And I begin to wonder about love, and this night, and why I get so darned grumpy (its really bad sometimes... seriously).
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We finish the night in front of the oscillating fan, an absolute favorite of our little friend. Because it is raised rather high, he reaches for me to hold him so he can be directly in front of the breeze. I realize how easy it could be to beg-off the request of someone without a voice, with nothing but a few rough hand signals. But instead this night I am grateful for the five-years of training my arms have had with two babies (sometimes simultaneously), and we cuddle close in front of the cooling breeze, this little precious soul and my grumpy one.
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All at once, as though he can hear the hesitation in my heart - my sadness for my own selfish attitudes, my wonder at his sweet and simple thrill over a fan while I require nothing short of a miracle to thrill me lately. He looks into my face, leans in and gives me a big wet kiss... then squeals with laughter at my surprise. Over and over he gives kisses and squeals and I decide to relax a bit, to "just love Respite Care", too.

4 comments:

Sue said...

Beautiful.

Kari said...

Sometimes we all just need a good kick in the pants! (Or a kiss from a cutie...) Great story!

Missy said...

Wow, respite night -- what a great idea!

Jen said...

What an awesome thing to do with your kids... and for yourself! Your daughters are such an inspiration to you, and I think that's great.

Thanks for stopping by my blog this morning. :-)