July 09, 2014

Taking Chances

I am two thousand miles from home.  I am the lone adult caring for 5 children and a service dog for a month in a 2-bedroom hotel.  I am without nearly all of the comforts and equipment needed to maintain Bridger's needs.  I crawl into his bed tent on the floor each night to administer his medications.  I am without the life sustaining element called the Disney Channel.  I am beyond exhausted but am giving every ounce of my energy to my other children to make sure that this is a wonderful adventure to remember.

Why am I here?

I am taking a chance.

We are here for Bridger to participate in an intensive physical therapy program that will push and tax his little body for 4 hours a day for 3 weeks.  I am taking a chance in the hope that Bridger may take a step. I am taking a chance that he might bear weight on his legs and taking a chance that he might pull his upper body into a properly aligned posture to make for easier transfers.

This 'life with a side of special' has become a life of taking chances.

The first chance I took began 6 years ago when I had just lived with Bridger for 8 weeks straight in Children's Hospital.  Alan would occasionally be able to come swap places with me late in the evening after work and I would sneak out in the late evening to go kiss my other little ones at home and tuck them into bed.  Then I would return to the hospital late in the night to continue my care of Bridger and Alan would return home.  I had only seen the light of day once in that entire period.

I had entered into the hospital with a little baby with a severe infection, that had some developmental challenges.  They were challenges that I had convinced myself to hope and believe were just benign - that he would soon catch up and close the developmental gap.

I left the hospital on a beautiful spring day, 2 months later, wearing a crusty sweatshirt, a greasy ponytail with the windows rolled down in my minivan to feel the sunshine and wind on my face for the first time in a long time.  I also was leaving the hospital with a devastating diagnosis.  One that had obliterated every hope that I had clung to just months before.

At that moment as I was taking in the sunshine on my face, a song came on the radio.  It was Celine Dion's, "Taking Chances".

Don't know much about your life.
Don't know much about your world, but
Don't want to be alone tonight,

On this planet they call earth.

You don't know about my past, and
I don't have a future figured out.
And maybe this is going too fast.
And maybe it's not meant to last,

But what do you say to taking chances,
What do you say to jumping off the edge?
Never knowing if there's solid ground below
Or hand to hold, or hell to pay,
What do you say,
What do you say?

I just want to start again,
And maybe you could show me how to try,
And maybe you could take me in,
Somewhere underneath your skin?

What do you say to taking chances,
What do you say to jumping off the edge?

Never knowing if there's solid ground below
Or hand to hold, or hell to pay,
What do you say,
What do you say?

As I was singing along to the song, it struck me how fitting that song was at that uncertain moment in our lives together.

I didn't know much about his life or his world - I had a piece of paper explaining an extremely rare diagnosis of words and of prognoses that I knew nothing about.
I didn't have my future figured out.  I hardly knew what to do when I returned home and walked in the front door of my home.  I had a list of phone numbers and agencies, insurance contacts and medical specialists.  Where was I to begin?

It was going too fast.  My mind was spinning, my heart was heavy, I felt like someone had punched me in the gut.

But then the chorus of the song came ringing across the speakers -- "What do you say to taking chances?"

It was Heavenly Father speaking to my heart, nudging me towards that obscure and less traveled path, saying, "Why not go walk in that direction? It looks scary but the reward will be great.  Go ahead, jump in with both feet.  Take a chance."

I started again on that beautiful spring morning driving home from the hospital and Bridger showed me how to try.

I have been taking chances ever since.

I take a chance every time I enter a geneticist office or neurological exam and process all they tell me, for better or for worse, and then take what pieces of those conversations are necessary to create the best life for Bridger and our family.

I take a chance every time I enter an IEP meeting with 8 people sitting across from me at the table -- as it seems my chair gets shorter and shorter each time as I advocate for Bridger through speaking carefully chosen words in a foreign language I am learning to become fluent in, called IDEA.

I take a chance every day when I wake up and my first footsteps are to his room to change his diaper and thread his legs one by one into his pants and take a deep breath and ready my muscles to pick up his heavy body to gently lower him into his wheelchair.

I sit here in this cramped hotel room as I take yet another chance.  I am taking a chance of a month of time and thousands and thousands of dollars that Bridger might learn to walk.  I don't believe for a second that Bridger needs to be "fixed", but I do believe with every fiber of my being that Bridger is here to fix us - to fix me, to fix my family, to fix anyone and everyone that may be brave enough to take a chance and be part of his life in some small way.  We are the ones that need fixing.  But if taking steps or learning how to transfer can open Bridger's world to allow him to be a better teacher to us, then I will help him open up his world and pursue as many chances as that may take.

Every day I am taking a chance.  It is a chance to hope and a chance to step in the darkness knowing that there will be a brighter light on the other side.

My faith in taking chances comes from the scripture in the Doctrine & Covenants section 84:88:

"I will go before your face.  I will be on your right hand and on your left,. . .my Spirit shall be in your [heart] and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."

I have felt that.  My very chin has been lifted as I have had to go forward in situations that I would have never previously had the bravery to face.  I have faith in the chances I am taking.

Life is full of chances all around you.  Go ahead, take one, and don't look back.