One of the greatest gifts that Evan has brought into our lives is the discovery of deep and meaningful connections with other people also facing healthcare challenges.
We are realizing nobody is without personal challenges, however perfect their life may seem. Each of us will experience the world with some kinds of struggles, which we learn to deal with in our own way, adapting to overcome the challenges we face. When we can’t see someone else’s personal trials they tend to go unnoticed. Mistakenly, we believe that life is somehow easier for other people.
Because Evan’s challenges are so visible, we find that people are compelled to share their own stories with us. They do this partly in catharsis and partly in assurance that we don’t struggle alone. Many people have confided in us that seeing Evan triumph so joyfully over his struggles has inspired them to rise above their own. These shared stories and confidences are treasures I feel honored to be trusted with.
I was reminded of this several times last week: by a friend caring for a seriously ill wife, by a young wife caring for her husband recently diagnosed with ALS, and by a mother caring for her child with special needs. Each of these people shared some of their struggles with me, knowing that I understand their world. A world that includes hospital stays, doctor appointments, physical struggles, emotional struggles, financial considerations, and the selfless giving of oneself to care for another person. What a relief it is to know that some other person knows what you are enduring. Especially when the person you are telling has gone through similar challenges and has somehow survived.
Understanding that at some point in time everybody will face some sort of challenge has been one of the most important defenses for us in overcoming sadness or even bitterness we may have had about the difficulties we face. It is our turn to step up and know how fragile and vulnerable the human condition can be.
Recently I came across the Children’s Craniofacial Family Blog Site:
Here I found reassurance and reality in the writings of other parents. I am reminded that someone else is going through the same motions (and emotions) that I am going through. I know that someone else really knows what my life is like.
The Children’s Craniofacial Association is a non-profit organization whose mission is “empowering and giving hope to individuals and families affected by facial differences”.
Without living through Evan’s struggles I might have missed out on some friendships and connections that have changed the way I live and the things I value. I treasure the unique bond of knowing what others must face and being known by others who understand our struggles. It is a connection of our hearts that brings beauty and meaning to our lives.