Several years ago, I was given a huge life lesson. My whole life seemed to set me up for it.
I was able to look into my past and use skills, knowledge, words of wisdom I had picked up. I had wonderful mentors throughout. And I mentored a few along the way.
In January of 2002 I was given a life lesson that required me to use every ounce of knowledge I had to find answers in moments of desperation. I was humbled quickly by what I didn't know. And for some things, I know I never will. I now learn every day from that moment. My teacher? My daughter.
She is an amazing girl. As a new dad, I reached into my past to recreate moments and lessons from my own father and mother. But none could prepare me for this journey.
Our beautiful precious daughter was born with intractable seizures. Over 200 per day. These seizures were cruel, mean and intolerable. I prayed to God so hard to intervene and give me her affliction. Her first neurologist encouraged us to put her in an institution and move on. "Not a chance, Doc." We found the right doctors at UCLA who held our girl and whispered to her while having a seizure “Dear Sweet girl, you are in the right place. We got you.” After multiple Neuro Surgeries and medications, our daughter became who she is today. While the world sees a developmentally delayed, non-verbal girl, her mother and I see her as a miracle. She communicates through modified sign language and an iPad. She is one of the brightest spots of our lives.
She has taught us about tolerance, acceptance and patience. She has shown us the ugliness of ignorance through others. Most people have heard "We are born with the ability to love, but we learn how to hate." This is true for her. She yearns for the hug from others, and she understands the power it can give. Yet she has not learned how to hate. She has shaped the attitudes and lives of her older siblings. For in this, they too have changed how they think about and treat people with special needs.
While she will always be dependent on others for the rest of her life, it will be others who will learn from her and take those lessons into their own lives. She has inspired us to create a product for the elderly and those with special needs which in turn will help people get the help they need in the event of an accident (google “MediPal” it involves your car seatbelt).
She is my daughter, my teacher, my giver of hugs. I titled this email "Chosen" because sometimes life chooses us to do what we do. It is how we choose to take on that life mission that determines our personal definition of success. I feel so privileged to have been chosen to be her dad.
Want to learn about tolerance, patience, love and acceptance? Be open to those with special needs. Volunteer for special Olympics, do what you can to eliminate the "R" word from your vernacular and learn to love, forgive, accept and tolerate everyone around you. Then pass it on.
Go ahead, we dare you, give someone a hug and see the magic of what is possible and the difference you can make.
Thanks K for E.
Thanks for reading. Have questions? Drop me a note.
All the best,