We stood at the kitchen island. She was in the learning tower, “mixing.” I was next to her. I think I was making a pie. We worked silently for a while, with breaks for instruction or laughter. I’m pretty sure we both had our hair pulled back. It was Saturday. I looked over at my daughter and struggled to find the right way to talk about preschool. It had taken me two weeks to convince her that she wouldn’t be going to school with Isaac. That her beloved Mrs. Jones wouldn’t be her teacher. I thought after meeting Miss Sara on Friday, Esther-Faith would understand better what the new week would bring.

“Esther-Faith,” I asked. “Where are you going to go on Tuesday?” She was confident in her answer, “To my new preschool.” I breathed an inaudible sigh of relief that she understood that her schedule would be changing. “Who is your new teacher?” I asked. “Do you remember her name?” Esther-Faith stopped what she was doing. She adjusted her stance in the learning tower. “It is Kate, Mommy.” She matter-of-factly declared. Immediately, the tears started to build and I couldn’t see what I was doing. “No, honey. It isn’t going to be Kate on Tuesday,” I gently explained. “Do you remember who we met on Friday?” Still not working, Esther-Faith took in my face. She looked at me as I blinked hard and fast to rid my eyes of the building emotion. “It’s going to be Katie,” she said patting my hand. “Esther-Faith,” I started. “It isn’t going to be Katie either. Do you remember meeting Miss Sara?” Strong-willed as only a child of my genes can be, she said, “It IS going to be Kate and Katie, anyway. THEY are my TEACHERS.”

I cried. And I cried. On Saturday. And Sunday. And Monday. And ALL DAY Tuesday. When I sat in that hospital exam room and listened to an intelligent, professional neurosurgeon explain the cold, clinical facts about my soon-to-be-born baby’s disorders, birth defects, and probable disabilities, I wish I would have had the foresight to see the warmth that those things would bring into my life. The human warmth. I wish I had felt less panicked. Less shocked. I wish I would have known that with all of the “problems,” I would also get to see humanity at its best.

I’ve had lessons on giving my daughter a catheter. I’ve helped her into her braces countless times. I’ve checked her skin for bruises and irritation. I’ve administered enemas. I’ve held her as she cried. I’ve wondered about shunt infection and failure. I’ve evacuated her colon. I’ve slept in hospital beds with her. I’ve watched her learn to maneuver a wheelchair, get her foot caught under the footrest, and her thumb stuck between the armrest and the wheel. I’ve waited patiently as she has laboriously taken her first steps. And I’ve chased her down as she’s made a break for it. I’ve wondered. I’ve worried. I’ve prayed. I’ve taught. I’ve been taught. But nothing I’ve done to give my daughter every opportunity for success has included lessons in goodbye. And I am overwhelmed at the gracious and wonderful people God has put in my path because of my daughter.

Wednesday, I arrived at the daycare to pick up Esther-Faith to find her snuggled in Katie’s arms, gently pinching her neck. She just snuggled. Katie did, too. I wished I had my camera with me. Katie is slender, firm, and fun. She has been the other half of “Kate and Katie” for quite a few months now. I watched her with my daughter. Remembering the fear I had when I learned a new teacher would be joining Kate. Remembering the gratitude I felt when Katie volunteered to learn the cathing routine just weeks after starting her job. Remembering the humor I had when Katie freaked out the first time she saw Esther-Faith hit her head. This is an intelligent woman with exceptional wisdom beyond her years. With strength of character. Someone my daughter cares about deeply. Someone my Tim enjoys teasing. Someone I trust. On Wednesday, I watched Katie and Esther-Faith have a tender moment. And I didn’t mind one bit waiting a few minutes longer.

And Kate. Where do I start with Kate? Just typing this brings me to tears. I can’t even begin to express how I feel about Kate. I can close my eyes and relive with remarkable vividness the moment I laid my medically fragile daughter in Kate’s arms. I have saved every email that Kate has sent to me about my daughter. I have stored away, in a very special place in my heart, every memory I have of seeing her with Esther-Faith. I remember the day she told me Esther-Faith was trying to pull herself up on things. To crawl. To stand. To use the potty. To walk. I remember the times she would share her insight on Esther-Faith’s moods. How she notices the little things about my daughter’s personality. How she notices when Esther-Faith is ok being left out. And when she is not.

As shocked as I was to be pregnant just months after adopting Isaiah and Isaac; as terrified as I was to learn three weeks before her birth that she had a severe, permanently disabling birth defect; as difficult and clinical some of her care as been, I am so grateful that through Esther-Faith, I have had the pleasure of knowing Kate and Katie. These women have enriched my life in immeasurable ways. They have taught me things about toddlers and preschoolers. They have shown me things about myself. They have taught me things about life.

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” (Eccl. 11:5) I completely identify with that. I don’t know why things happen the way that they do. I don’t want to know. I am content in knowing that because I had a baby that was not in my plan at all, I have the privilege of knowing some remarkable people who are leaving their prints all over my heart.  

Have you met anyone through your child(ren) who is leaving “heartprints” in your life?


by Karin.


Karin blogs mostly about her family over at the HennHouse.

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