A few days ago Elise graduated from Kindergarten. As our family passes through certain milestones with Elise they can be difficult. (What seemed like autism eventually turned into looking like Rett Syndrome.) We certainly have moved passed wishing our situation was different; nevertheless, these little glimpses can be a bit sad and force feelings that can be challenging when they surface.
At graduation each little student was called by name and marched up to received their diploma. While the student walked the teacher would read what the child would like to be when they grow up. This is always a cute exercise. In fact, the little boy called after Elise said that he wanted to be a ninja when he grows up! I suppose it is our fault, but when several kids had their name read and the future doctors, basketball players, and cowboys received diplomas, the teacher read, “Elise Gwilliam”. Then silence. I guess we should have prepared for this moment a little better, but because Elise can’t talk or communicate her dreams and wishes, she and we were left with silence.
So, I write this today to fill in that very silent blank. Elise what will you be when you grow up?
You will be happy. You won’t get paid for your incredible smile and contagious giggle. You won’t be rich or famous, but you will be happy. Mom and Dad will be by your side this whole journey through. You will have everything you ever need and laugh and play and simply be happy.
You will be a teacher. You will teach anyone who is keen enough to listen, learn, and spend time with you. You will teach them about patience, goals, dreams, and long-suffering. You will teach others about gratitude and grace, about love and kindness.
You will be a light. Others who know you or see you will find within you a light that ignites from a source other than words. You will make their day better. They will see in you what special really means.
You will be a daughter and a sister, perhaps the most important title you can ever have. You will be our family.
You will be perfect. You will one day have a body that magnifies your unique, unconquerable spirit. It will allow you to more fully radiate what is inside of you. The limitations of mortality will one day be reversed and because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, you will be perfect.
You will be free. The ravages of disease, syndromes, genetics, and every other part of earth’s limitations that bind you will be taken away. You will be free to use your hands again, free from pricks and pokes at hospitals, free to speak what is in your angelic mind, free to be calm, free to have your mind choose to move your body. You will be free.
Perhaps, Elise, your future is brighter than any other student in our little town. What will you be when you grow up? You will be happy, you will be a teacher, you will be a light, you will be part of a family, you will be perfect, you will be free.
All of that is better than being a ninja anyway.
If you enjoyed this, you might want to read their Essay from a couple years ago … Her Voice