Hope waited all of December to go to Disney on Ice. When the big day arrived (during the school break) she could not contain herself, screaming and cheering and whirling about in glitter and sequins.
As always, the plan was one parent would take Hope to the show and one parent would stay home with Rhema. I hadn’t really been out of the house since my surgery, but there was no way in the world I was going to miss seeing the fascination and pure delight on her sweet face.
As we were preparing to go, Rhema was inconsolable. I tried singing to her, offering popsicles, her favorite toy. But she sat in a corner, covered her face with her arm and wept. When Rhema cries like this it’s a sight to behold – it could break the hardest heart.
It may seem obvious that she was sad because she wasn’t going to the show. But honestly, it was not obvious to us. Not at first. For so long Rhema has not given any indication that she understood what was being said around her or to her. Nor has she given any indication that she cared one iota about what was being discussed, what we were doing, where we were going, etc.
But as Hope and I boarded the train for Boston, I couldn’t shake the feeling that she knew, she understood, and she cared.
And it was almost too much to handle. There was hope and joy in this milestone – her ability to comprehend language around her, her ability to show her comprehension, her desire to be with us. There was heartache in realizing that she knew she was being left behind. It gripped my gut to imagine her tears and know that she might know (or have known all along) that her differences, her challenges make life so hard sometimes.
It hit Brandon like a ton of bricks, too. He texted, “I think Rhema was sad because she wasn’t going. Yea, sad when I realized that, but…”
As if reading our thoughts, Hope said, “I wish Rhema could come to Disney on Ice with me.”
“I know, Hope. The show is 2 hours long… and loud… and chaotic… and wouldn’t hold her interest… and it would be very hard for her… She’s better staying with Daddy. They’ll do something fun together.”
“I still wish she could come to Disney on Ice with me.”
Hope LOVED every dazzling moment of the show, and I loved every dazzling moment of seeing her so happy. I felt so thankful that she can experience these things, that her father and I can help make her little-girl dreams come true. Of course as I watched her, it was bittersweet. My heart was at home with my other sweet girl, wishing she could share this with her sister. Oh, how I want everything good for her. Everything good for them both.
We brought home a funny hat. The hat is from those alien things in Toy Story. So we did a funny photo shoot.
The next afternoon I found Rhema and Hope huddled under the covers. Hope was gently telling Rhema every detail of the show – she left nothing out. And I know Rhema listened. And I know she cared. And I chose to believe she understood.