Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Brother, My Friend


Justin and Joshua  - Summer of 2003
Justin, who was nine at the time, should have been able to do twice as much as Joshua who was five, but it didn’t work out like that.  They played together all the time, but Justin noticed he was “different” and couldn’t do the things that his little brother could do. At times, his frustration got the best of him and he wanted to give up, but Joshua’s tendency to include his big brother made Justin feel “normal”.  Never had this inclusion been as important to Justin as it was one day when I took the boys to play at the park.
As I pulled into the gravel parking lot, I noticed several kids already on the playground.  Afte we walked through the wrought iron gate, the boys took off running toward the swings.  Justin laughed as he ran clumsily behind his little brother and finally made it to his destination. He studied Joshua's every move, but couldn’t seem to grasp the concept of how to swing.  “Hold on.” I said and gave him a little push. Justin’s eyes lit up when he began to swing just like Joshua. 
I looked around and noticed a wooden bench under a pine tree just a few feet away.  I sat down and had pulled a book out of my blue tote bag when I saw a small group of kids running around.  They made their way to the swings and began to strike up a conversation with the boys.  Justin tried to talk with them, but they could not understand his gibberish.  The four kids began to focus their attention on Joshua and ignored Justin.  After talking for a few minutes, Joshua and his new friends ran off to play on the monkey bars leaving Justin by himself.  The smile disappeared from Justin’s face as he watched the other kids have fun without him.
My heart broke when he looked up at me with tears in his eyes.  “I play Joshy.”  He said as he pointed to the other kids.   “Do you want to swing some more?” I asked as I knelt down in front of him.  “I not do it.”  He said as he looked down at the ground.  “What about something to drink?”  I asked as I reached into my bag.  Justin sighed.  “No.  No tank you.”  He said. 
The sounds of the other children laughing and playing echoed across the playground as I sat in the swing beside him.  After we sat for a few minutes I saw Joshua and his buddies run toward Justin.  They were out of breath by the time they made it to him.  Joshua bent forward and placed his hands on his knees and tried to catch his breath.  I was so proud of Joshua when he asked if Justin could play with them.  “It’s ok with me, but maybe you should ask him.” 
Justin's face lit up like a Christmas tree when Joshua asked if he wanted to play with them.  "Yeah!  Yeah!”  Justin squealed with excitement. Joshua then turned to the other kids and said “This is my brother Justin.  He has seizures in his head, but he likes to play just like us.”  Justin stood up and his new found friends waved to him.  “To the monkey bars!”  They all exclaimed as they ran off together.  Of course Justin lagged behind, but it didn’t seem to bother anyone.  My eyes filled with tears of joys when the other kids cheered Justin on until he made it to where they stood.
The kids played for a long time…running, laughing, having fun.  I decided it was time to go when I noticed some of the other kids leave to go home.  “Alright boys.  It’s time to go.”  I said as I stood up and swung the tote bag over my shoulder.   “Awwww mom!  Do we have to?”  Joshua asked looking up at me with his big brown eyes.  “Come on.”  I said with a tussle of his hair.  Justin had a sparkle in his eyes and a big smile on his sweet little face when he said “Dat fun Mama.”  “I’m glad you had fun, but I bet you’re tired.”  I said as I bent over to adjust the strap on his leg brace.  “I sweepy.”  He said as he rubbed his eyes.   “Both of you will probably sleep well tonight.”  I said when I stood back up.
As we began our walk to the car, I heard someone yell, “Justin!  Joshua!  Wait a minute!”  The three of us turned around to see a freckle faced little boy running towards us.  “Do you have to go now?”   He asked while looking up at me with big pleading blue eyes.  “I guess we can stay a little longer if they want to.”  I replied as I glanced in the boys’ direction.  Cheers filled the air as all three boys jumped up and down with excitement.
I watched the three of them run to the swings.  Justin sat down while Joshua and their  friend took turns pushing him.  Justin’s sweet laughter filled the air as he went higher and higher.  I realized at that moment how important this was for Justin.  After all, he wants what we all want….friends, love and acceptance.  Joshua without realizing what he had done, made that moment possible for his big brother just by letting the children know that Justin is just like them….a boy who wants to run, play and have fun.
Thanks to all my friends for reading,
Angela :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Much Needed Vacation

A Much Needed Vacation

Justin at the beach
We all have our daily routines which is well and good but everyone needs a break from time to time......a change in other words, a vacation. That's exactly what we did with the family this summer when we went to Wilmington, NC.  We took a much needed getaway to somewhere we hadn't been before and it was exciting deciding what we should do.  The scenery was beautiful and we couldn't have asked for better weather. 

The thing the kids loved the most was when we visited the USS North Carolina. Tim and Joshua kept Savannah in their grasp as I helped Justin move around the battleship.  There was alot of climbing up and down stairs and this worried me a little since Justin's balance isn't the best in the world, but he climbed those steps just as good as I did.  After awhile though, I could tell his legs were getting tired and I made him sit down on a bench to take a break.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well he held up and his sensory problems didn't get the best of him.

We also visited the Railroad Museum and the Cape Fear Serpentarium.  Yes... a place where there were lots of snakes and crocodiles.  To be honest, it was kind of cool in its own creepy way.  We were all having fun until they began to let some of the snakes out to feed them.  At that point, Justin wanted to go.  I coaxed him over to a bench until the snake feeding was finished and then he leerily finished looking at the rest of the exhibits.

We also went to the beach.  I talked Justin into removing his boots, braces and socks and he walked along the edge of the water with me.  The water and sand washing over his feet scared him a little at first but he got used to it.  He would holler and then laugh with the anticipation of the next wave of water heading toward his skinny little toes.  I looked at the precious smile on Justin's face, then I looked over at my husband and daughter still walking along the water's edge before looking back at Joshua who was in the sand picking up sea shells.  We were all relaxed and at peace without a care in the world at that moment.

I realized it's not always the big things we do with our children that matter, but the small things we do that can have a lasting effect and make some of our most treasured memories.  The most precious gift we can give our kids is our time; even if it's just holding your child's hand while walking on the beach or looking at the sea shells they collected.  It makes them feel loved and important and in return we have memories that last a lifetime. 

Thanks for sharing in our memories,
Angela :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My Own Little World


I bought Justin a shirt one time which read "I live in my own little world, but it's ok they know me here."  I thought it fit Justin perfectly but as I began to ponder it further I realized it's true for everyone.  We are all responsible for what and who we let into our world and as we began to have children, we have the added responsibility to monitor their little world as well.  The world we create for our family should be one of comfort, peace and acceptance, but then why is there so much pain, suffering and heartache? 

 This question has been plagueing my mind since reading the news this past week.  One story was about the death of a 32 year old man with down syndrome.  They arrested the mother and sister in connection with his death.  The man had been locked in his room and forced to sleep on a child's bed covered with feces.  He had an untreated skin condition which caused sores to form so deep you could see the bone in some areas.  The shocker for me was that he weighed only 69 pounds at the time of his death.  Yes, you read that right.  A 32 year old man weighing only 69 pounds when he died.  The mother's only worry was wondering whether or not she would continue to draw her son's disability check even though he was dead.

The other story I read which brought me to tears was a local story about the death of a three year old little girl. The mother had already been sentenced to 20 years in prison in connection with the death and her boyfriend got life in prison.  Evidence showed this little angel had bruises all over her body and burns around her private areas.  She had an untreated urinary tract infection that spread to her kidneys and the blood stream, but it was also proven she had been raped several days before her death.

I can't understand why the people in these two individuals lives didn't try to ensure their world was free from this evil.  They had the ability to provide a safe haven but chose instead to be a part of the torment their children endured.  Why oh why does the innocent have to continue be the victims of the cruelness of this world?

I don't have the answers but I do know we don't have to worry about what is going on in these two individuals' world anymore.  They are with our Lord in Heaven and He tells us in Revelation 21:4 KJV  "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

I urge each of us to take a look at our own world and the world of our children and if there is something we can do to ensure the safe, loving environment that is so needed to make sure they grow physically, mentally and spiritually, then please make the effort to do so.  We only have one shot at this.  We can't go back ten years from now and try to fix it.  It is something that must be done at this moment.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to be a part of my world.
Angela :)