We have faced many challenges, but our lives have been enriched in ways that we never could have imagined.
A little over twenty-five years ago, my wife and I were blessed with the birth of a beautiful baby girl. From the moment that she was born, Rebecca was faced with some pretty significant challenges; she spent the first two months of her life in neonatal intensive care, where she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder; she endured several significant surgeries and other medical procedures, which included the placement of a feeding tube that she kept until she was eight years old. Our precious daughter was in a very fragile medical state when we brought her home.
As I look back on those early days, I have to acknowledge that I was in a state of denial regarding the severity of Rebecca’s challenges. Surely at some point all of the challenges that Rebecca was facing would just melt away, and she’d “catch up,” right? I held out this hope for a long time. I probably didn’t begin to come to terms with the fact that my journey as a father would be much different than what I was expecting until Rebecca got to first grade. At this point, the realities of our situation began to sink in, and some of the challenges that Rebecca would face on a long-term basis could no longer be “wished away.”
The path forward from this point certainly didn’t move in a straight line. At times it felt like we were taking one step forward and two steps back, but little by little Rebecca overcame her more acute medical issues, and we began to focus more time and attention on helping her find her way in a world that isn’t always all that accepting of those with differing abilities. I probably underestimated how difficult this process would be as a father – striking a balance between encouraging your daughter to engage with the world, while at the same time trying to ensure that she always felt safe was no easy task – but day-by-day we tried our best to find that balance, and to support Rebecca as she grew into the remarkable young woman that she has become.
While I continue to wish that Rebecca did not have to contend with the challenges that she faces on a daily basis, my heart is full of pride when I think about who she has become as a young adult. Rebecca maintains an enthusiastic, positive attitude at all times. She has a kind, caring heart – I can honestly say that I’ve never seen her utter an unkind word about anyone or anything. She enjoys other people’s successes like no one that I’ve ever seen. She is an absolute inspiration to me on a daily basis, and I know that many other people are similarly inspired.
Twenty five years ago my wife and I were blessed with the birth of our beautiful daughter. We have faced many challenges over that time, but our lives have been enriched in ways that we never could have imagined. While our journey as parents has taken us on roads that we were not expecting, we recognize that we have been blessed beyond measure to have been provided the opportunity to share our lives with Rebecca. She has opened our eyes to beauty in the world that we might not have noticed; she has taught us more about life than we ever could have imagined; and she inspires us on a daily basis as she continues to overcome the obstacles in her life. Our daughter is the greatest gift we ever could have been given – we love you more than words can say Rebecca!