My reason why...

    Those of us who can, should...for those of us who can't, but would-if only given a second chance. ~J.M.Dare
 During the summer I work with students who have a variety of disabilities, with quite a range of severity. I look forward to working with them with the same excitement and anticipation as the first day of school. It's not an easy task, but it's the most worthwhile experience I've ever had.
     The last several summers, I worked mainly with one girl. When I first met her, I was struck with sadness, grief and fear. I silently questioned whether I could do it-I wasn't sure I could handle it emotionally. She spent most her time strapped in a wheel chair, a stander or laying down while I massaged her and stretched her fingers, hands, arms, and legs. She hated when I stretched her, she let me know by yelling out haphazardly, kicking me, and jerking herself away as best she could. She was around the same age as one of my daughter's and with almost the same name too. The first day we met, I cried on the way home.        
     Life isn't fair, I screamed on the inside. She had been in a car accident. Her life, and everyone who loved her was drastically changed-forever. I went home and hugged my daughter's more deliberately than usual. Why is it we need these reminders to take ourselves off autopilot?
    This summer I looked forward to seeing her again and spending time with her, but when I arrived the first day, they told me she was too old for our program now and wouldn't be coming. The rug was pulled out from under me. I really wanted to work with her again, it never occurred to me she would outgrow our program. I took for granted she'd be there for me, as much as I wanted to be for her.
     Because of her, or for her, I dedicated my summer to living strong. I pushed myself physically, biking and hiking, eating right, doing right-not perfectly of course, but I tried. I even did things I've never done before like hike up a mountain, White Water Rafting and traveling to a place I'd never been...Colorado. I conquered some of my fears and I did things alone for the first time...ever. I saw some of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, all the while praying to God that somehow she could see, taste, smell and hear what I was.
     Most people thought I was just busy flitting about-a jet setter. Some of them joked about how I spent my time, and wondered if I won the lottery, but they didn't know my motivation was a girl who was now a woman, who changed the way I live my life. Isn't it ironic how we think we are helping someone else, yet it's us who ends up being helped.
Palisade Head, just north of Two Harbors, Mn.

Colorado River


          1020 ft hike up Hanging Lake, Glenwood Canyon, Co
                         11,866 ft. elevation
                                                         Hanging Lake 

1st ever grape stomp.


  1. Jo – this so pulled at my heartstrings. Having a daughter at 17, I feel your pain in the words, and your joy between the words. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thank you for reading and for the message.

  3. Good for you. Sometimes we need reminders, who often come in the form of people, to remember to live life to the fullest. I'm so empathetic I'd have cried, too! You're strong and beautiful.


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