The world around us is always new and fascinating to young children. Each new sight and sound is incredibly exciting. Each child in their own way joins the world and connects readily with their environment. I see my youngest create relationships everywhere he goes. Hugs and smiles are shared freely with neighbors, playmates and teachers. He takes in his world and chats about every encounter and event. This connection beyond mom and dad is a daily occurrence since the moment of his birth. As parents this miracle nearly goes unnoticed.
Below: Riley in Corkscrew Swamp, 2006.
This is not Riley's experience. The brain damage he suffered prior to birth makes it so challenging for him to process the environment around him. His dad and I try to help... we hold him steady hoping he can view a bright musical toy set before him... we help him reach to touch a patient dog before him... we give him kisses and talk to him incessantly trying to help him be a part of our world. We never give up and never will. But sometimes it gets frustrating that he remains trapped in his body.
And then... it happens. Riley makes a connection! Everything is clicking. He is organized and can pull together his emotions and his body all at the same time to show that he is really right here with us... not above the clouds.
Riley is eight and a half years old... and when I see him connect the tears are back in my eyes for pure joy. Yesterday in Miss Emily's arms for his Physical Therapy it happened. Seated facing forward in front of her, he turned back and looked up into her face then leaned in and brushed her cheek. Was it an accident? He did it again... with all the purpose he could muster, leaned in and gazed up at her. Riley connected.
Not once but twice yesterday. Later in the day we waited ringside for riding lessons. Conversations went on just behind us as Miss Christine arrived with Kaetlyn. Reaching backwards and upside down from my lap, Riley appeared to search behind him. I righted him thinking he had just fallen too far, but he pushed against me searching. He was searching for the people behind us. Another connection made.
At eight and a half years, miracles still happen.
We are all special.... by Stacie Wiesenbaugh