Friday, December 9, 2011

Find My Family Friday - Victoria

This week’s Find My Family Friday brings us back to Victoria (you can read more about Victoria here, here, here and here) however this week, instead of telling you more about Victoria, I want to tell you about a little girl named Ella.
Ella is a beautiful 5-year-old girl who, like Victoria, has visual impairment. Ella’s mom, Jill, blogs about their family here and I was so touched by this post that I read last week, I just knew I had to share it with you today:

Let it Rain

***Originally written in July, 2009 and taken with permission from***

I remember this moment very vividly.

I just stood there.

I stood in the doorway of the freshly painted nursery we had just finished decorating for our new baby girl. Ella had been born 5 days before, and this was the first time Erik and I had been home since her birth. We were packing our things to head up to University of Michigan Children’s hospital in hopes that they could tell us things the Doctors here just could not. We had been told Ella would be blind, yet we were still not sure of the status of her brain or her tiny beating heart. The unknowns of our daughter’s condition loomed heavy over us.

I just stood there.

Staring at all of the beautiful toys, blankets, clothing and other gifts I had received at my baby shower. A countless number of children’s books. A cute mobile for the crib that had a mirror attached to it. All of the artwork I had hung on the walls in bright, bold colors. I fell to my knees as I sobbed.

I said to Erik, very seriously, “We have to take ALL of this back. Right now! She cannot see any of it. How will she ever enjoy these things? How will she enjoy anything in her life? How? Tell me!!!”

I craved answers. I needed a plan. I wanted to have control over a situation that I had absolutely no control over. Ever the voice of reason, Erik told me with an almost unbelievable calmness, “No, Jill. It will NOT be like that. I promise.” (have I mentioned how much I love that man?)

I wanted to believe him. Oh, how I wanted to believe. It was exactly what I needed to hear. But as we stood there in the doorway of the nursery, holding tight to each other, his warm tears eventually mixed with mine as they flowed silently down his cheek.

We had so many feelings of doubt…fear…uncertainty. And why wouldn’t we? The news of Ella’s condition was so fresh in our minds and hearts. We had little knowledge. We had little experience. We had no idea what our future would hold…


I am so thankful to God that those days are far behind us!!!
As Ella often says, “Whoo-Hoo!!”

That moment occurred a little over three years ago & I am happy to report that I am a mere fragment of the person I was that day in the doorway of Ella’s nursery. (I know the same goes for Erik!) Every day since Ella’s birth has been an adventure in learning, growing, changing and coming up with ways to maximize each experience she has in her non-visual world.

Not that Ella needs much help maximizing anything. She is 3 going on 13 with an independent spirit and a sense of humor that just amazes us. Her grasp of language is well beyond her years and her thirst for knowledge continues to grow every day. She is loving, caring, kind, sassy, brave, hilarious, smart, playful and thoughtful. Some of the things she does and says lately just leave us absolutely in stitches. She wants to TRY everything, DO everything and does not for one minute think that she shouldn’t or can’t do anything that any other child can do.

She is very interested in relationships lately – who is related to who and how and what is the proper term for that relationship. She always wants to know what Street or Road we are on when driving in the car. She will hear my blinker and ask, “Oh, you are turning. What street will we be on now?” If a new song comes on the radio, she wants to know what the name of it is and who is singing it. At snack time, sometimes she will ask for something crunchy, smooth or bumpy instead of naming an actual food. She always tells us what we are wearing by feeling our clothes. “Oh, you’ve got on a tank top.” A t-shirt. bathing suit. a towel. jeans. shorts. a skirt, etc. She is so curious about everything. She always wants to know if people are boys or girls or young or old. “He’s and she’s” she calls people. “I am SO good at my pronouns!!” She exclaims. She wants to know what colors things are. Pretty amazing, I know. Don’t make the mistake of calling her “baby” either. She will say, “Oh, mommy…you mean big girl.” Of course I did, Ella.

My sister and her family were home for a visit earlier this month. My 4 year old nephew, Rylan, wanted to play the Wii in my parent’s basement one afternoon. I was going to take the other kids outside for a walk.

“I want to play Wii too Mommy,” Ella said. “I want to bowl with Rylan.”

I asked her, “You do? Really?”

She replied, “Mommy…why wouldn’t I?”

And so she did. With a little help from Daddy, which she did not enjoy. Miss Independent wanted to do it all by herself. And even though she faced the wall instead of the TV while she bowled, she swung that Wii controller and had the time of her life. I sat in amazement as I mentally added that to the list of things I never thought my blind child would be able to enjoy. (Kudos to my nephew Rylan as well for punishing Ella like he does to all of us who try to play him in Wii bowling. The kid is crazy good!)

We took a family vacation to southern California last month to visit Erik’s parents. We took the kids to Disneyland in hopes of bringing alive all of the episodes we’ve watched of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the Disney Channel. That’s right. Ella watches TV. She has her favorite shows and enjoys them very much.

Turns out, Ella had a better time than most of the kids in attendance at Disneyland that day. She had a constant smile plastered on her little face as she waited patiently in line to meet her favorite characters or ride all of the fun rides with Daddy. It was an absolute thrill for her and she was still singing “It’s a Small World After All” as we walked back to our car at 11pm that night. She loves to tell people, “I met Minnie, Mickey and Goofy! Donald must have had the day off.” Again…I mentally added it to my list as a realization washed over me. Who was I to ever put limits on her enjoyment of life in the first place?

I will never be able to define my girl Ella in one short journal entry, but I can say with 100% certainty that while she will experience the world a bit differently than most, she will always be doing it to the full extent of her little heart.

A marvelous example of this happened yesterday.

I was driving the kids home from running errands when the sky opened up in a terrible downpour. The rain was coming down sideways, making it very hard to drive. The booming thunder crashed all around us. I could hardly hear Ella’s sweet voice from the backseat as she was saying something. I asked her to repeat herself.

“Mommy, when we get home I want to feel the rainstorm.”

I said, “It is raining really hard babe. Like, really hard.”

“I know,” she said. “I just want to stand in it.”

Ok, Ella. If you say so. I got her out of her carseat when we pulled into the garage and put her down on the floor. “Walk straight ahead and out of the garage if you still want to do it,” I told her.

She took a few steps and within seconds was being pelted with the unrelenting drops. She giggled uncontrollably. “Whoo-Hoo!” she yelled. “I am getting soaked!” She held her little hands up in the air. “I love this!” she screamed.

She just stood there.

Laughing, whooping, wet and cold and loving every minute of it. I sat in the garage and thought back to that girl in the doorway of Ella’s nursery that day. Oh…the things I would be able to tell her now. I would tell her that it will eventually be OK. That time will heal all her wounds and worries and that her heart will be stretched out and filled up in ways she can only dream about. I would tell her that with her daughter’s help, she will learn to see the world in a different wonderful way. I would tell her that it ends up that sight is merely one of your 5 senses and absolutely non-essential to living a healthy, fun-filled life.

Erik was right. It has NOT been like I thought it would be. Ella enjoyed those baby toys and blankets when she was little and has continued enjoying her life ever since. In her own special and unique way. Just like any other kid her age. I thought of how I stood there long ago and looked out at Ella standing in the pouring rain with her hands raised to the sky. It was as if her smile was speaking to me.

“Why wouldn’t I, mommy?”

You are so right Ella Elizabeth. Why wouldn’t you?

Let it Rain.


Like Victoria, Ella is sassy and spirited, smart, brave, and playful. Like Victoria, Ella doesn’t let her visual impairment stop her from doing what she wants to do. Unlike Victoria, Ella has a family who loves and celebrates her and gives her every opportunity to be all that she was meant to be.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I know that visual impairment can be scary but I had to share this story with you in hopes that it will open your eyes to the beauty and the wonder of parenting a child with visual impairment. This past week not one but two blind children appeared on the Reece’s Rainbow My Family Found Me page… God is indeed stirring hearts towards these precious children! Would you join me in praying that Victoria would be next? You can also help Victoria’s family find her by sharing her story or donating to her grant fund.
For more information or to donate, click here.

1 comment:

Tink said...

Just wanted to let you know that after lots of prayer, I've chosen Victoria as my next kid to sponsor. I was looking fr an older boy, but God had different plans.
God Bless