I sighed to see Cheryl's name and her sweet, smiling face in the obituaries. She was 57, often out and about in the community, with Mom ever nearby. Mom is sure to miss her terribly, yet find consolation in living to see her daughter loved and well cared for all her life.
As another aging mother who lost her son with disabilities put it, “Now, I can die in peace.”
The fraternity of families living with special needs has ample experience with death. In our circle, losing classmates with disabilities began when our daughter was in preschool.
We lost Becky to seizures and tiny Valerie when she didn't wake up one morning. Then Michael, Tyne, Sandy, Mikey, and Brian, as time went on.
I imagine God welcoming each of these angels into heaven with outstretched arms. "Well done, my child," he will say.
"Yours was a difficult life indeed, and at times you could make life difficult for others too. It was your calling, for you showed them they could do difficult. You made them better for it.
"You are to be commended for the many gifts you have bestowed upon others.”
• Fortitude to the minister. You yelp during his homilies. He prays for you to stop, but no, you push him to practice what he preaches.
• Friendship to the newlyweds. When they move in next door, you welcome them to the neighborhood. They invite you to stop by anytime, not guessing you would pop over. Every. Single. Day.
• Enlightenment to the doctor. When she asks for your signature, you put your handwriting skills on display, scribbling the form top to bottom, showing her what cerebral palsy looks like.
• Patience to your parents. Every mom and dad needs more of this virtue, especially yours!
• Charity to your friends. When you insist a cow is a horse, they try earnestly to correct you, until they learn to let it go. Being right is sometimes overrated.
• Gentleness to the airport security officer. He randomly selects you for screening by his drug-sniffing dog, commanding you not to touch – until he realizes not petting Fido is not an option for you.
• Perseverance to your teachers. Must be a midnight elf who erases most of what you learn each day from the blackboard in your brain, making every tomorrow a do-over.
“You see,” God will say, “those who have crossed paths with you learn to respond with grace. They are blessed, whether they know it or not.
“For they will need a boatload of virtues to get where you’re going.”