My mom stood by the microwave and pursed her lips. She opened the door, placed her bowl inside, and pushed the start button.
“I just always thought,” she said. “The people God chooses to be parents of children with special needs….they must be very special.”
I don’t remember what we were talking about or who else was with me. I just remember that we were in the kitchen, and those were my mother’s words. I remember it because it was profound. It was sweet. It was comforting. Yes, there must be a reason…a very special reason for someone to be given a tougher road than others. To be given something out of his/her control. Yes, there is a reason beyond our understanding. There must be.
I’ve wanted to write about this moment for years…. because I think it is an important one. But it’s a tricky subject. That’s a loaded statement. There’s a lot in there about parenting, about religion, about disabilities. I do not believe I have the knowledge or expertise to discuss everything here in a meaningful way. But I can try to find some parallels with this statement and my life.
I do not know what it is like to have a child with special needs, or a child at all. I did read a beautiful poem in middle school from a mother’s perspective. (I’m not sure if THIS it, but it’s very similar.) I have heard from and read about families with similar experiences. How beautiful, strong and full of love they are. But for all the wonderful things that may come with those circumstances, I think it’s fair to say it also includes unique and difficult challenges. My mom’s sentiment is those parents must be stronger than others. Those parents must have bigger hearts, more compassion and patience. Those parents must be special, and God chose them because of their hearts and their strength.
I do not know that exact struggle, but I have been through my own hard times. I watched my best friend lose her Dad. I have dealt with my husband’s diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. I have watched my family hurt and struggle. I have come to terms with the fact that there are some cruel, hard realities about the world that you can’t shield your loved ones from.
I find comfort in my mom’s statement. Not because I have had that exact experience, but because I have had my own struggles. And we like to believe there are reasons for our struggles.
In the years since this moment, I have come in some ways to reject this. I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe there is some almighty superpower with a plan for every single living creature on Earth. I do not believe God “chooses” you or me for this or that.
But I absolutely believe in universal love. In a common thread that connects us all. And I believe that love is the meaning of life. I believe when we take in unconditional, universal love for all living beings we become the highest, greatest versions of ourselves.
And I believe we cannot attain that love and give it to others, unless we have known hurt and difficulty. For those are also common threads that connect us all.
I don’t think God chooses some parents to have certain children. I think we are given the families we have….for reasons we may never understand. And maybe we aren’t supposed to.
But I do know that our challenges make us who we are. And maybe those parents didn’t have bigger hearts, stronger souls, more compassion and patience before they became parents. But are stronger and more compassionate because of those experiences. They have been made more beautiful by the difficulties of their paths. By the hand they were dealt in life. For reasons none of us knows for sure.
It’s easier and simpler to believe there’s a man in the clouds with a plan and a reason. It’s much harder to accept that life just flat out isn’t fair.
But beautiful people. Great people. Strong and loving people.
They are made…shaped by experiences unique to them.
And they are, in every sense, special.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross