“They got it back.” I smile at Brandon in amazement. “They got it back!”
Rhema’s words. Her handful of words… “Hi, bye, yeah, help, Ho (for Hope).” She’d lost them. Or somehow they’d become inaccessible to her. When she began learning to use the communication app on her iPad, her ability to speak those words seemed to vanish, for a solid year at least. A few months age we expressed our concerns to her teachers, and it was eerily familiar to when she was 15 months old and I worried and took her to the doctor: “She stopped saying ‘Hi.’ I don’t know what happened. She stopped saying ‘Hi.’”
Rhema’s teachers, being the incredible teachers they are, worked so hard with her to get those precious words back.
And all throughout this weekend we heard her words! I could cry because we’ve known the heartbreak of working so hard and long for something, and then somehow it slips away. And we’ve known the glory-strength God gives to keep moving forward. And we’ve known the joy of finding what we lost. I’m learning on this journey with Rhema not to take any of it for granted, to treasure every little-big gift.
Less than a year ago she competed in the Special Olympics Summer Games, and with the help of her beloved coach Shea, she won three medals in gymnastics. It was a day I will cherish always.
Then Shea went away to college. Special Olympics took a break during the summer and winter. And now it’s like we’ve taken five years of steps back, back at the very beginning for my girl who needs so much consistency – every day consistency – to maintain skills. Today we’re just trying to help her cope with being in the gym again. Desire and motivation seems to have flown the coop. Her feet no longer run, skip, jump or walk on the beam as they once did.
I look at empty hands, the spaces between my fingers.
Skills gained and skills lost.
And the one constant, my darling, the one thing you cannot lose, is our love.
“I heard a song today that made me think of you. It’s based on a Bible verse that says nothing can separate us from God’s great love for us. Not anything in this world! Not the present or the future, not height nor depth, not the worst sins, not hardship, not pain, not sorrow, not even death can do it. That means so much to me, Rhema, when I think about my life and things I’ve done. That He loves me still, anyway, even though.
I can’t even make sense of that kind of faithful, unending love. But God gave me a taste of it when He gave me to you and Hope.
Because nothing can separate you from my love. Not silence or distance. Not aggressions and regressions. Not flopping or bolting. Not lost opportunities. Not stares in public. Not broken things and broken dreams, not heartache. Not weakness or failure now or ever. Not the present or the future. Not highs or lows. Nothing can take you from my love.”
~Adapted from a December 2011 letter, “I Belong to You.”