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Thank The School

It's no coincidence that Thanksgiving takes place towards the end of one of the most difficult months of the year. And if you don't think so, then you definitely don't live in the northeast. Here, November is usually grey and drab: the strange place when the trees are bare and colorless, and the ground is frozen but not yet blanketed in a muffling robe of white snow. Known as the most sunless month, November is when the reality of a long cold winter starts to set in for keeps. Last November was pretty brutal for us. Between fighting seasonal viruses and depression from lack of sunlight, we were also gripped by the fears surrounding Leo's future, or lack thereof at the time. It was a bleak time and finding something to be thankful for was next to impossible.

This year, it's easier to be thankful.

But I still somehow manage to find my way into the classroom that belongs to the School of Hard Knocks. Once you have been accepted there, you are there for a good chunk of time, because it's somewhat difficult to graduate. Graduating from here means that you have put in a lot of credit hours towards classes with names like: "Fairness: Them and You" and "Grief and Your Expectations," or my particular favorite: "Acceptance, Repentance, and Time." If you miss your homework, the consequences can be fairly nasty.  Anxiety, stress, sickness and depression, just to mention a few. And just when I think that I have got a handle on the material, something happens to send me back to the basics. Healing your mind from a trauma such as my family has suffered this past year is not easy. And it's interesting to note that as things seem to settle and smooth out, the emotional damage starts to make itself known.
You start resenting the fact that you are in the School of Hard Knocks and so-so over there has led a charmed life and can't even appreciate it. What's the deal with that!?
The grass is always greener I remind myself, as I go back to Hard Knock 101. Everyone has a hard time, you just have a different definition of the word. But it seems like I'm fated for disaster, the little, and annoying insistent, voice in my head argues. Why is it so much harder for me? Why am I expected to be chipper and thankful for all the hardships and fear in my life? These are some of the questions being asked in the beginning of the course.
As time wears on however, the questions themselves might change, but most of them will still go unanswered. And the funny thing is, that after all that work and effort that I spent trying to find the answers, none of that will matter anymore. Because the only thing left standing after weeks and months of searching, will be trust. Trust and love that can only come from life. This past year we have given our son up for death more times then I can remember, but I can vividly remember every time that he was given back to us to live. So should we squander that gift of life by being stuck in remedial "Why My Life Sucks," class forever? Or could we finally graduate to and from the super high level, "I've Figured Things Out," class?

Well it doesn't sound too difficult, you say, and theoretically that might be true, however I have learned that the most simple things, are sometimes the hardest to understand. They are the hardest to put into practice, because they require trust. And when you boil it down, trust is only the frosting which covers the very real, very essential, and basically simple matter of faith.
If we "keep the faith," then no matter how dark the sunless gloom that surrounds us, we will always have a light.

I don't know why it was my son that was born with such terrible problems. I don't know why most days I'm reeling from one disaster to another, barely keeping things together. I don't know how I ended up being in the School of Hard Knocks. But I do know that no matter how awfully my stomach may drop on this crazy free fall of life, there will be gentle hands to guide my landing.

Another thing that I learned? When there is a lot of hardship, there is also a lot to be thankful for. No, it isn't a coincidence that it is in the darkest time of the year when we look to re-affirm the good things. When we search our foundations for strength and find the faith and trust to keep us going.  And to give credit where it's due, the School of Hard Knocks has done a lot to make this possible for me this time around.
This Thanksgiving, I give thanks to the teachers of this school. These teachers who cried with us, who babysat for us, who brought us comfort food in the hospital, and who took some time out of their busy days to say a prayer for a little boy who they may have never even met.  Dear family, friends, and followers of this blog... Thank you. And most importantly, we give thanks for the sweet and golden and unfathomably precious gift that is our son.

Some folks' lives roll easy as a breeze

Drifting through a summer night
Heading for a sunny day
But most folks' lives, oh they stumble
Lord they fall
Through no fault of their own
Most folks never catch their stars
And here I am, lord
I'm knocking at your place of business
I know I ain't got no business here
But you said if I ever got so low
I was busted,
You could be trusted

Some folks' lives roll easy
Some folks' lives
Never roll at all
Oh, they just fall
They just fall
Some folks' lives

-Paul Simon


  1. I came to the blog through a friend who has a daughter with Down's Syndrome, and although I do not have a child with special needs, my children have a special needs Momma. My own brain chemistry dramatically altered after the birth of my last child, and I have been on a path to healing ever since. Mostly just eating right, taking my many meds, exercising, and praying ALOT, but easier said than done. : ) I love your blog and I so resonate with the steady and basic lessons of faith and patience (with myself.) I often think I should be higher up in the class than I am, getting a better grade. But, at least I stay in school and a "C" is a grade to be proud of, especially if you worked your booty off for it. Thanks for writing!


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