The lady at the fabric counter was friendly and asked about what I was making. I told her a baby sling and, of course, she asked about Helen’s age. Usually, I rehearse polite answers in my head before going out. But I didn’t that day. So my only response was four.
Helen wasn’t with me, so I filled the awkward silence with the quick she has some special needs answer. Her immediate response was I’m sorry. I really did appreciate her compassion. We finished the conversation with other things and I left.
It wasn’t until I was halfway home that I realized something.
I wasn’t sorry. Not anymore. For such a long time, Helen’s whole life really, I have been sorry. I’ve prayed and wished and worked to try and make this go away. And (obviously) watching Helen struggle is always hard. But we all struggle in one way or another. And like it or not, the struggles often define the better part of who we are. Would I change the last four years? I don’t have an answer for that. I really don’t…and probably never will. But am I sorry for them?
No. I’m not.
We are better parents and better people, not in spite of the last four years, but because of them. We’ve learned that love is so much more about a choice than any emotion of your heart. That staying is sometimes right even if it feels all wrong. That judgement and quick assumptions are easy and weak and that it takes patience and strength to offer compassion. That hard things can still be very, very good. I’m always surprised at how quickly I can forget these things, but another day with Helen reminds me. For that I can choose to be grateful.
Things are good now. I have no idea what it will be when Helen grows up. I don’t even know what tomorrow morning will look like. But I do know that looking for the good makes getting through this day easier.
Oh, and if you have time, you might want to listen to this. I do. Everyday.