Have I mentioned that my daughter amazes me?
She is spectacular, this four-year-old, 35-pound ball of drama and energy and love.
She is my ONE THING. Have you ever had one of those? Have you ever been at a point in life where you felt so tired, so sad, so disappointed ... and, yet, you had this one thing--this amazing-beyond-words-thing that kept you from falling to the ground in tears???
Even on those nights when you just give in ... you throw back your head and let the tears flow from the deepest part of your soul ... you let lose with those gut-wrenching, cry-out-to-God-sobs ... yet, you still think about your ONE THING. And you know that tomorrow will bring smiles, all because you have your one-thing, the one thing that is sure to provide you with enough love and laughter to keep on moving.
I wonder, sometimes, if my one-thing will turn into an adolescent who screams at me when I set boundaries with which she disagrees. Will she be angry at me for not managing to make things work with her father, as much as I wanted to? Will she resent all the times I made her wait, or told her to be patient, just so I could meet one of her brother's needs?
Will I be able to make life for her anywhere close to what I first envisioned when she was just a tiny image taken from an ultrasound?
I never once imagined, when I learned I was pregnant for the second-time around, that the baby I was then-carrying would one day be a four-year-old girl whose very existence would keep me from being overwhelmed with despair.
It sounds a bit dramatic, no doubt. But my daughter has been that for me.
The past six years have been a puzzle to me. I began to worry about autism early in my son's life, even though I didn't want to believe it, even though I couldn't bring myself to accept it for a while. And, wouldn't ya know, just as soon as the worries began, I learned I was pregnant again.
If it hadn't happened precisely when it did, well, there most likely would not have been a second baby for me. Even if I had wanted to "chance it," her dad most certainly would have been too worried. As anybody with a child with autism can tell you: once you have a child with autism, nothing about having a baby will EVER be "normal" again.
I question so much about the spiritual world. How, how, how can so many children, so many purely innocent children, suffer so many horrible illnesses, disfigurements and disorders, if there truly is a God? I don't know, and I can't ever completely reconcile reality with the presence of a God who actually plays a role in the ordinary, day-to-day lives of the people walking on Earth.
BUT ..... even if God isn't directly answering prayers, I frequently wonder if He is sending us signs. Or perhaps He is sending us gifts.
I frequently wonder if my daughter was sent as a gift-from-above for her brother. How can I not wonder when I see her chase after him in Wal-mart, after he decides to run down the aisle without turning back? She thinks about her brother in ways that transcend the "typical" brother-sister relationship, especially when the sister is supposed to be the younger sibling.
She accepts him for who he is.
She worries when she thinks he might be in danger.
She notices what makes him happy and calm, and she speaks up for him because she knows he cannot speak for himself.
She does ALL OF THIS at the tender age of four.
She is, without a doubt, a gift to her brother. I could live to be ninety, and I don't think I could ever forget the kiss she gave him this very morning, as he began his first day at his new school for the summer.
He kissed her back, in his own, sweet, Daniel-way.
Oh, my weary soul .... what a moment.
But now that I sit here, with the open bag of chips and the open bottle of Merlot before me, I know for-certain, that if Olivia was put on this Earth as a gift ....
I am the recipient.
As much as she does for her brother, as much as she will mean to him throughout the years ....
She will mean just as much, if not more, to me.
I so frequently worry how I am going to do the things I need to do, for myself and for my children.
I sometimes throw up my hands in despair, in disillusionment, and I wonder how I will make it through the next year, and all the ones that follow.
And then I think of that beautiful, amazing girl of mine, with the sweet, tiny lips, the dimple on the right-cheek, and the thick, dark eyelashes that will never really need mascara.
I think of her heart, so pure and accepting.
I think of her love, so limitless and unconditional.
She is my one, true thing, the joy that keeps my heart from breaking all the way through.
I don't know if I ever will manage, as her mother, to provide Olivia with one-tenth the joy and happiness that she brings me.
So I will just thank my lucky stars that she is mine, that I am so fortunate to have such a remarkable gift in my life, the amazing gift of my daughter.