Hero: One endowed with great strength or ability; one that shows great courage.
Don’t quit reading. I promise I’m not going to launch off into my opinion of Hollywood’s latest hero worship fiasco. Besides, those of you who know me know what I think about it….and I certainly don’t need to add my voice to the many voices who have so adequately expressed my views.
I was going to write this blog anyway, someday, but now I have many reasons to do so. And yes, a big reason is the messed up qualities that our culture is trying to cram down our throats…..not only the person this week but the people every day and every week that they try to convince us are worthy to be called heroes.
Another reason I want to write about some heroes I know is because of a conversation I had this morning with Barb, a manager at Paradigm and one of the kindest people I have ever known. She told me of a business owner across the street from Paradigm, Aaron’s day group. This man is not a nice neighbor to Paradigm. One day, as special needs clients were outside on Paradigm property, he told the Paradigm staff that they could “take their circus somewhere else.”
Someone hold me back! A circus?! Excuse me??
That poor man. He has no idea that he has heroes across the street from him every weekday. I looked around inside Paradigm today and I saw amazing young adults. Shauna gave me a huge smile from her wheelchair. Jessica waved at me and gave me a beautiful smile. Paul gave me a hug.
For years I have been surrounded by heroes…..by individuals who have extreme challenges, but display extreme strength as well. How often do we “normal” people stop to think about what these special people face every day of their lives?
Each of them has a diagnosis, but their diagnosis does not define who they really are. There is Epilepsy, Doose Syndrome, Autism, Prader Willi Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Muscular Dystropy, blood disorders, Downs Syndrome, Developmentally Delayed…..
But my friends are real people with real lives. They were named by their parents, who love them so deeply.
They each face, or have faced, more physical challenges than I have ever seen in my own life. Could I ever deal with even a fraction of what they handle, sometimes every day?
Taking medicines every day.
Facing the side effects of all the meds they take, which include being sleepy, dizzy, gaining weight, mood swings, organ damage, bone loss, etc.
Surgeries, some extreme.
Multiple doctor appointments.
Test, tests, and more tests.
Fear of infection.
This is just a very partial list of what they routinely encounter. They pick themselves up, every day, and they live. They live their lives to the fullest. Would I be able to function after having one seizure, or would I just go to bed for the rest of the day? How do some of them do it after having multiple seizures, sometimes daily multiple seizures?
But there is much more than just the physical part of their struggles. What would it be like to face the social aspects of living life every day with a disability or a diagnosis that hindered you from living like your peers?
Having to go to special classes at school.
Having an IEP.
Not going to college.
Wanting to drive but not being able to get your license.
Having seizures in public.
Looking different, possibly.
Being bullied or teased.
Not having filters, so you say things that others don’t like or understand.
Not having close friends, or any friends at all.
Not being invited to go out with your peers.
But our kids keep on going. Somehow they manage to not only live, but to laugh and to grow and to thrive the best they can. They jump over the challenges and push ahead, every single day.
I’ve watched Aaron on a seizure day as he still tries to smile, to get out of bed or off the couch, and to continue his day as best he can. I’ve seen him go back to hard situations, like after he’s had a meltdown, and face his staff and friends again. I’ve heard him say that he wished he could drive as he watched Andrew pull his truck into the driveway. It’s sad to understand that he can’t even go out on his own to get a hamburger without depending on someone to take him. I’ve been deeply touched as he watched his brother and sister grow and move on with life. It broke my heart when he came home from his special needs school one day and said, “Mom, I noticed that all those kids there have problems. What are my problems?”
And I want to say, “Aaron, you don’t have problems. You have challenges, yes, but you have overcome them every day of your life in ways I’m not sure I could. You are strong, and you are tough, and you are brave!”
You’re a HERO!!
And so are each of these wonderful young people that I’ve mentioned today. They are each full of courage and strength to live their days as fully as they can. They wouldn’t think of themselves as heroes, but I do!
They belong to a unique group of Super Heroes! They should be on magazine covers and cereal boxes and talked about on the news!!
But they probably won’t be. So look around you every day and find the true heroes among you. Smile at them, love them, encourage their families, reach out to them when you can, and pray for them.
I am very thankful to know so many heroes….TRUE heroes that fit that definition perfectly.
And someday I’ll see two other heroes that have already gone to heaven.
They live on in our hearts, and especially in the hearts of those who knew them best.
Don’t listen to silly Hollywood stories and look at ridiculous magazine covers to find a hero.
I guarantee there are many special heroes around you every day who could be your example of strength and courage.
I’m so blessed to live with one! And to know many others!