“Not this time. As soon as she forced the vision out of her head, all of the surrounding air, time, light, and sound bent in space at once, forming a celestial wormhole that encased the DarkDwellers in one massive eruption of her mind.” – Theo’s Mythic
This is one of my favorite quotes from the book. Why? Because it shows how one previously-believed-to-be-flawed character, a Happenstance, has amazing potential. The Happenstances in my book are loosely based on my two nieces; profoundly disabled from birth, yet profoundly spectacular in redefining what it is to live a life.
Happenstance means: a circumstance especially that is due to chance. My nieces are undiagnosed and perceived to be “flawed” by many narrow-minded individuals. They cannot walk or talk. But to me, a life is not defined by what you cannot do, rather, it is the potential within – whether it be latent or obvious. It isn’t packaged in a form you are used to seeing, but make no mistake about it – the spark is there.
Here are a few examples of the life my nieces have lived and what they have breathed into my “normal” world. Essences I would have never inhaled had I not been blessed with all that they are.
- Love comes in many forms. We have never heard either one of them say, “I love you”. And yet, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the love that emanates from their souls is felt deeper than any three words uttered by mouth could ever communicate.
- Beauty abounds. Beauty is not defined by perfect makeup, hair swept into undulating waves, or the must-have designer label meant to elevate and transcend the ordinary. True beauty can be found in their smiles. Wholly uplifting – and sometimes mischievous – grins, that are equal to all the joy in the world captured in two magnificient faces.
- They are strong. Looking at them all you might see are two weak bodies relegated to wheelchairs; robbed of the potential of perfectly developed muscles, skin, and bone. Yet they have survived grueling therapies, a near-death experience (still classified to this day as “a miracle” by all doctors), and multiple surgeries – one of which left them in body casts from the chest down for two months. So to look at them as weak is to say that the ocean has no greater purpose than to lick the shore. The mighty ocean and my mighty girls have much more strength in them than that.
While the Happenstances in my book are created by lightning, we don’t know by what “chance” my beautiful nieces came to be. They were created out of love, that much I know. The Happenstances in Theo’s Mythic speak in a manner not in keeping with an adult, but they speak volumes with the warmth, love, and care of a thousand mothers. They are not air-brushed, modified, or reshaped into the perfect ideal of beauty, they are naturally glorious. And although they were created by chance, they bear strength and fortitude to become an extraordinary part of their world – of our world.
So the next time you see a disabled person, look to their core, their gifts…to the happenstance that brought them to us. Don’t spit them out, breathe them in. Their life will teach you more about living than any amount of years or experience ever will. While chance was the catalyst, they happened for a reason.
Last week, my amazingly soulful and giggly niece, Abby, was called away to Heaven. Why? There is never an adequate answer, is there? My heart breaks for her incredible parents and all who loved her. However, it is with full conviction that my heart does not break for her.
To know Abby was to learn that “different” meant extraordinary; that a disability only meant out of the norm and not disabled. My heart is full knowing that she is finally able to realize what it is to walk amongst friends and loved ones, respond to a kind word with her own words, and feel unrestricted movement in every facet of her being. To be free.
We often say that about someone we have lost – that they are at peace and are now free. To Abby, these sentiments carry much more weight than we boringly normal people could ever know. Her transition means so much more than we could ever understand. And her life means so much more to those of us left behind because of who and what she was – special.
Special needs often defines children like Abby. Sure, she needed certain alternative accommodations, but the special needs definition was for us as well – because she was special and we needed her in our lives. In fact, there should be more Abbys in the world. Too often we get focused on the negative; we make mountains out of our of minuscule problems; and we see the good in a cursory manner, but actually pay attention to the bad. I needed Abby and all of her specialness – which I could eat with a spoon – to teach me about what is right in the world and where the priorities ought to be, not where society tells us they should be. Simply put, she set me free.
We will never be the same. Some days I just want to punch something at the unfairness of it all – and some days I thank God for making the right choice for her, even though it was the difficult one for us. Her life and death were altogether amazing and heartbreaking – and one day I pray I get to hear her giggle again. Just one little laugh to know that all is right in this world. Until then, we’ll smile for her as we remember not what we have lost, but what we have gained, an angel.