Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Poignant Moments

Being the parent of blind children is a tremendously humbling experience.  Watching (and I can see the irony here) Lexi and Conner perform the simplest of daily tasks can sometimes bring me to tears. Most of the time I don't even notice it, partly because they do things so well and partly because I'm just used to it.  But once in awhile the significance of living without sight hits me hard.  It may be Conner clearing his dinner plate and his helpless realization that someone has moved the kitchen garbage can.  Or Lexi sitting with us as we watch America's Got Talent and suddenly realizing that she can only really experience the singing acts.  Or transporting the two of them home from a camp with the Utah School for the Blind and watching as they struggle to get their suitcases back in the house from the garage.  Life is not fair.

And yet, these children who cannot see the light bring so much of it into the lives of others.  Lexi's infectious smile, gregarious nature and willingness to sing for pretty much anyone and everyone she ever meets brings joy to so many people.  Conner's dry sense of humor, continual insistence that he needs a girlfriend before he dies and his talent on the piano make those around him alternately laugh with him or be amazed by him.

I haven't mentioned Elli because the poignancy of her life transcends the struggle to sightlessly do what everyone else does.  She is often happy, and equally often at least contented.  But she also has many moments (or hours!) when she is in anguish, crying out for something.  Something we cannot discern. I don't know how much even she understands what it is she wants.  Sometimes she seems completely lost in a different world, but sometimes it feels like she knows exactly what she wants and is tormented by her inability to communicate her needs.

The other day I had two moments, one that made me so happy as I witnessed the ingenuity and cooperation of my kids, one that was a simple representation of what they have to overcome.

First moment: I walked into the kitchen and saw the cooks.  Lexi and Conner are both able to prepare their own ramen noodles in the microwave.  We have two microwaves, one above the counter and one below.  The lower oven has braille stickers that enable these two to use it.  Conner had put his noodles in the lower oven and started it.  Lexi didn't want to wait until his were done, so she put her noodles in the upper oven and shut the door.  Unable to tell where the numbers were, Lexi wrapped both of her arms tightly around Sophi's torso.  Lex then lifted with all her might, and leaned back so that Sophi was angled up.  Sophi reached out with her toes to put 3 minutes on the timer.  I wish I had taken a picture!!!  Watching these kids demonstrate their independence was a great way to start my day.  (And yes, it was breakfast they were cooking.  In China, there's really no difference between breakfast food and dinner food, so ramen noodles are great any time of day😋.)

Second moment:  I was tasked with changing the sheet on Lexi's mattress.  Lexi sleeps in the upper, built-in bunk in the room she shares with Sophi.  If you've never changed the sheets on a bunk bed, consider yourself lucky.  It's a bit of a challenge.  When we designed our home, we wanted built in bunks in the girls' rooms and we put in electrical outlets by each bed for reading lights, alarm clocks, etc.  A couple of incredible local artists volunteered their time to paint both girls' rooms with a Disney Tangled theme.  They painted pretty much every square inch of the walls, and it really does feel like you are walking into whatever kingdom Rapunzel lives in.  Part of their efforts included painting the cover plates on the electrical outlets.  As I climbed up to Lexi' bed to change the sheets, I noticed her outlet.  Again, one of those simple moments that sucked the breath out of me.  I saw this:


Once completely covered in paint, much of it has now been scraped clean by metal prongs as Lexi has tried to find the holes to plug in her phone charger.  Such a small thing, but a great representation of how challenging life can be.  It is also a great example of determination and perseverance.

I didn't start this post with any intention of advocating adoption, but I am suddenly overwhelmed with  a combination of compassion, sorrow and hope for those who could adopt but haven't yet.  Please consider it.  It is wonderful for the kids who become part of a forever family.  But perhaps the most powerful blessings come to those who bring these children into their lives.  You will be blessed.  Your current kids will be blessed.  Grandmas, grandpas, cousins, aunts and uncles will be blessed.  Neighbors, church congregations and entire student bodies will be blessed.  We have truly been blessed beyond comprehension by these giant spirits in slightly broken bodies.

Jeremy

On a humorous note: Sophi and I were talking and my large belly was stretching my t-shirt a bit tight.  I commented, "I can't believe I used to be 25 pounds heavier than this!"  Sophi looked at my stomach and said, "How did you fit on rides???"  Great question, Soph! 😂

2 comments:

  1. What a beautiful post! It's perfectly expressed and such a good reminder for us all.

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