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The Future of Us

Jodi Shenal by Jodi Shenal Additional Needs

Jodi Shenal

Jodi Shenal

I'm a stay-at-home mom with two amazing children. My son is on the Autism spectrum and my daughter has a rare genetic disorder and multiple disabil...

Once as my son and I were pushing his sister in her wheelchair down the aisles, a kind lady approached us.

I will never forget that unexpected meeting.

She told me that she was a mom, just like me, and proceeded to show me photos of her beautiful son in his wheelchair.

When our chance meeting ended, we hugged and she told me how we were, in a sense, sisters.  That ultimately led to my frantic search for tissues in my diaper bag, to dry my overflowing eyes.

Recently, another unforeseen moment of impact hit me as I shopped.

There was an elderly couple with what I assumed to be their middle aged daughter.  The three of them walked slowly together; the parents lovingly helping their adult child maneuver through the store.

She had the brightest smile and it was completely obvious that the three of them mutually adored each other.  I am not certain that she was nonverbal, but that was my impression.

My daughter is nonverbal, and I could just sense some similarities between them, on some strong parental wavelength, perhaps.

I couldn’t help but stare at them…I wasn’t gawking at them by any means, I was watching them in admiration.  I was gazing at them and feeling a sense of familiarity.

I could see a glimpse of my own disabled daughter, many years down the road.

I also saw a glimpse of myself and my husband in the elderly couple.  They were holding on to her so tightly and helping her to walk. They did not waiver and they kept a slow and steady pace.

I went on about my business and finished up my shopping.  While in the check-out line, I saw the mother walking the daughter to the restroom and helping her make her way inside.

I felt that familiar lump in the throat start to form, and the hot sting of tears starting to burn my eyes.

I could see myself doing this in thirty years…..and I knew I would do so with pride.

I thought about them all the way home.  And I still think of them often.

My daughter will need me and her Daddy always and forever.  That scares me beyond words, as I know the day will someday arrive when we have to leave her on this Earth without us.

It’s a thought that I push way back in my mind and can’t allow myself to focus on for long.

She will have her brother, and that brings some comfort.  But, she will always need US.

Putting myself in the shoes of the mother at the grocery store, I know that she probably feels those same, real fears.

As a mother of a daughter with multiple, profound disabilities, I will gladly care for her, carry her and protect her as long as my own body holds out.  Her Daddy and I both will.

It will be an honor and a privilege, because of the immeasurable love that we have for her.


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