Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Earth Angel

Friday, May 25, 2007

Earth Angel

I had an amazing morning.

I have not yet worn my Sophie's Run T-shirt out and about. It's only because I am not that casual when I stop in to pick up work. In fact, I have never once worn any sort of T-shirt into the medical center. This morning something felt different. The dang thing wasn't even clean, but I threw it in the dryer to smooth out the wrinkles. I just HAD to wear it.

I soon found out why.

I drove Erik out to the stables this morning for therapy. A woman I never saw before was in the small observation room gathering her things to leave. I said hello as I led Erik through the door. She saw my shirt and asked, "Did you do Sophie's Run in Corvallis?" Surprised, I told her I had and began a conversation with her. She introduced herself and said she walked with Bev, Erik's therapist, every day at 6 a.m. Bev went to Corvallis to support us this year, so this lady knew about Erik and the race. I was happy to talk to someone who knew about the event on this side of mountain. Soon after we began talking, a beautiful, slim, long-legged 6-year-old girl walked slightly haltingly but purposefully through the door with Ms. G, Erik's private therapist. She wore a brightly striped sweater, jeans, and soft, colorful Nike shoes. Her hands gently but constantly tapped together, and she was noticeably silent. The woman introduced the girl to me as her adopted daughter, who was diagnosed at 3-1/2 with Rett syndrome.

There were many amazing things about this conversation. First of all, being completely caught off guard by this very sweet woman was a pleasant surprise. There is no way to say this without sounding psychotic, but we connected immediately, and I was excited about that. As we got into our conversation, we discussed feeling invisible at the playground or out in public, and how woman seem to be more cruel than men when they realize our children are different. We simply seem to fall off the radar at times to some people. I admitted I no longer go to the playground with Erik alone because of this. She told me how to get a caseworker here through the county to help me fight for Erik. We discussed how amazed we were by the typical 1-year-old boy whose mother works at the stables. I called him a "walking fetus," and she laughed. She understood exactly what I meant without me having to utter a word of explanation. We discussed how things could be worse, and how she unapologetically wished her daughter had Williams syndrome instead of Rett syndrome. Yes, someone envied my circumstances! If in the middle of feeling sorry for yourself you have someone tell you they wished they were in your shoes, it tends to change your perspective. She told me the story of how they adopted their children, and I was covered in a layer of goosebumps several times hearing the whole gorgeous story.

The most amazing thing of all was that she told me that she was related to the only other person in town with Williams syndrome. This would be the mythical girl I occasionally mention and have yet to see but hear about here and there. Can you believe it? Being in complete shock, I can't recall exactly how, but I believe she was her step-aunt, or something to that effect. Was today a friendly sign that it's time to cross paths with the other WS family in town? I don't know how I feel anymore, actually. After all, I know one of them now. I was originally dead set against it, but now I'm not so sure. I readily admitted my fears to her but told her I'm getting stronger; and I meant it.

We talked for what seemed like forever, but we both didn't want to stop. She told me she had every reason to believe Erik was going to be just fine. I told her I heard that once in the past, days after his diagnosis, and I couldn't make myself believe it for one second at that moment but that now I was almost certain it would be true. The plastic words that had wounded me like a dagger a year before were now soothing, especially coming from this woman, and I could accept them as the truth. She very gently but confidently reached out to pat my hand before she left and told me she was glad she said something to me. If I hadn't felt a little off balance, I would have hugged this stranger.

As I watched her go, I felt like laughing and crying at the very same time.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing. There really are no coincidences in this world. Things happen when they're supposed to, in the way that they're supposed to. It's so comforting that a stranger can pop into view and, without meaning to, indelibly stamp our lives. Take comfort in the experience and know that you touch others in the exact same way.

7:23 PM  
Blogger Teresa & Shawn said...

What a wonderful experience to have, Nancy. I am always amazed at how life works out just the way it's meant to be.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Katie said...

Its funny how things throw you into perspective - i must say to read this was quite bizarre as i had a very similar encounter the other day at the local shop, also speaking to a women who had a daughter with Retts Syndrome.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Every minute counts.... said...

I am so glad that you got to have an experience that I try to seek out now. I have gotten so much comfort for myself from reaching out to others. That is how I became the regional co chair for the WS...I wanted to meet someone! There seemed to be no one else who understood and now I have met so many, and for some I got to be the first person who truly got them without having to explain. It is such a renewed feeling! I hope that you get many more experiences with other parents of kids like ours,and they don't just have to be WS parents.


7:24 PM  
Blogger Lisa R said...

Wow Nancy that is so cool...maybe you guys well get together sometime. I am glad you are doing so is amazing what a yr can bring huh. :)

4:03 AM  
Blogger kathi said...

Sounds like you were being sensitive to the leading and guiding of God's Holy Spirit this morning when you decided what to wear! :) This was so great it gave me goosebumps.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Lizard Eater said...

Love those Earth Angels. I've had a couple, myself. They can tell you things and it soothes, that if someone else said, it would burn.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Rosemarie said...

You've been reaching up looking for comfort and the answer came this way. Fate! A connection that is heaven sent.

8:12 PM  
Blogger THE PASLAY'S OF IDAHO said...



7:12 AM  
Anonymous Aspen said...

What an amazing story. I have a special place in my heart for Rett Syndrome girls. My cousin was a Rett Syndrome child and we lost her when she was 9 years old. Even though I was a young girl myself, I will always remember her. When we originally started the diagnosis trail for Daven, Rett Syndrome was our first stop. But after some blood test and research we could count that one out.

It is amazing how our perspectives can change so quickly. And how we can connect with perfect strangers simply because of our situations.

Thanks for sharing your story Nancy! You are right, you were meant to wear that shirt on that day for a very specific reason.

10:42 AM  

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