One of the most interesting things about raising a child with special needs is the reaction from the people around us.
When our family walks into a restaurant and the host seats us, I'm usually in the back. You know, to make sure all the kids follow dad and make it to the table.
I can see the other customers faces as the host walks by, then Chuck, then usually Sharaya or Diana and they keep talking to the person they're with or they take a bite of food. But then Beth walks by and almost every single time they stop... fork half way to their mouths or mid sentence - and they turn to look at Beth. And they watch her walk all the way past.
Sometimes they look up and catch my eye and the look on my face varies. I'm sure it depends on the look on theirs. Sometimes it's knowing - an older couple with great big smiles and they'll wink at me. I wonder if they have a child or grandchild with special needs.
Other times it's people who just don't know what to think about her. They just look.
Still others will whisper something to the people they're with and kind of point to Beth, like they're saying, "Quick. Look at her." They don't smile. They just stare.
But then there are people who look at your child with love. They look at her and know she can do anything she puts her mind to. They look at her and are proud of her accomplishments.
I actually caught one of the moments with my camera. It was at Beth's high school graduation in 2004 and she had just walked across the stage, shook the principal's hand and received her diploma. Then she made her way down the stairs, past some of the faculty and was headed back to her seat when I snapped this:
She's completely oblivious to them but you can tell they're celebrating her accomplishment. They're genuinely excited for her! That doesn't happen all the time and I love the way they're looking at her!
When we got home from the airport, Beth looked up at her, then went back to her movie. I told her, "Beth get up and give her a hug!"
She really wasn't very emotional about Diana flying in to surprise her. Although later on that day she did bowl her best game in weeks! I think it was because Diana was watching. :)
When Sharaya arrived at the restaurant, she told Diana, "I knew you were coming." (Diana accidently spilled the beans during facetime a few days earlier. She tried to cover but Sharaya figured it out!)
I got to spend an entire afternoon with her. We went down to the beach, walked along the waterfront and spent a couple hours just talking. I absolutely loved it!
Diana was in town for less than a week so we had to plan both birthday's during that time. It worked out great and I loved having all my girls together again!
We celebrated Beth's birthday on Saturday even though her birthday is today, October 10. (I'll tell you why in another post.)
She said she wanted to go to The Spaghetti Factory this year and we were all happy with that! We hadn't been there in a long time.
Of course we invited Nick and his parents and the way it all worked out, she ended up sitting between Nick and his mom. Before they got there I asked her if she was okay with that, "Uh, yea!" Okay, just checking. :)
She's 32 this year and has been telling everyone! Thirty two!
We decided to go ahead with the c-section but only if Chuck could be with me when they gave me the spinal block. I had been in active labor for more than 30 hours, and was still having contractions when they started the surgery. I was shaking and crying and I thought could feel it! The cutting and pulling... I told them I could feel them in my abdomen and I could hear them cutting!
The last thing I remember was the anesthesiologist's arm reaching over my face. Apparently I was freaking out so they put me out. And when I woke up in recovery, there was Chuck with a huge smile on his face!
"We have another girl!"
Our beautiful baby Sharaya Dawn.
October 6, 1986
This is what I wrote in my journal, "She's such a total doll! Huge blue eyes! Her fingers and toes are long. She's warm, cuddly and an angel!"
She looked exactly like Chuck. He was even biting his lip in his newborn picture too!
This girl has brought us so much joy over the years.
She was always smiling and was the peacemaker among our girls.
I am so proud of you. You're strong in adversity, yet you have such a gentle spirit about you. I love you so much and I know there are great things ahead for you!