last month, i attended a graduation for homeschool families. there were 9 seniors there. one of them was Kelly, a beautiful girl with cerebral palsy who i have had the privilege of working with off and on since 2007. the graduation was just like i imagined it would be, until they got to Kelly’s turn.
when she was wheeled to the stage and then supported as she mounted the stairs with every ounce of determination and courage she had, everyone knew her story would be a little different. all the other seniors were recognized in their short biographical videos by their accomplishments: the sports they played, the grades they made, the friends they had, and how good they were at everything. Kelly’s video, on the other hand, emphasized who she really is. on the inside. and how despite her severe CP and the many obstacles she has faced and continues to face, she has a positive attitude and a thankful heart. as her mom so beautifully stated “the world is a better place because Kelly is in it.”
as Kelly walked across the stage with her walker, i held my breath. we don’t let her walk on her own because of her instability, and i was sure she would fall. but she didn’t. somehow she made it to the other side, where she hugged her parents and then they stood in front of the crowd and received the first (and only) standing ovation of the day. many people were in tears and the moment was full of powerful truth.
Kelly has taught me a lot through the years. while most people don’t understand her speech, i am one of the lucky ones…and i can tell you she is wise beyond her years. she is humble and patient and seeks connection where you least expect it. she cannot walk independently, has a hard time feeding herself and getting dressed, and her spasticity has prevented her from “success” with her communication device. essentially, she is “trapped” by her body and very limited in what she can do.
but that’s not how she sees it. at all. Kelly’s heart beats for God. she wants nothing more than to live a life that glorifies Him. she always says “but God is good.” even when it looks like there is not much she can do, and she won’t be going off to college like the other seniors, i am convinced that God has big plans for Kelly’s life.
i am blessed to be Kelly’s caregiver and friend. she has enriched my life in a way that not many people could. she continues to remind me what is important. she encourages me to be grateful in hard times. she demonstrates faith, hope and love in a powerful way.