And there were tears ...
That's how the story goes. How did we get there?
Many months ago, we were given a "loaner" or practice power chair to see if Manny could actually even physically be strong enough to be able to maneuver it. We knew he was smart enough to do it, but what about strong enough? The verdict was "sorta". But this was also during the past few months when he has been in and out and in and out of the hospital not feeling well either.
I still remember the first time he got in the chair. I wasn't prepared for the feeling that would rush all over me. We put in him. I stood on the other side of the room and said, "Come here."
For the first time in his life, he had a thought of "I'd like to go over there" and then his body did it.
I still get teary eyed thinking of that moment. I cannot begin to tell you the overwhelming sense of pride that it gives you to see that. Liken it to seeing your child take his or her first steps.
Eventually the loaner had to go back and we were without the chair again.
I did notice, though, that his brain was "rewired" a bit by this exercise of having a chair to get around in and go where he wanted to go. Like I would hold him and he would tell me, "Go that way, Mama" and he would point. Previous to the chair, he never told us where he wanted to go. I was THRILLED by this new thought process.
Fast forward to about two months ago. There was a meeting about how to see if we could possibly get insurance to cover a chair for him. It seemed an impossibility. We knew it would be out of our price range to just pay for it. So the MDA office, the Mobility Clinic person, the Wheelchair rep and I just decided to see what would come up, see if we could have any bright ideas, get some numbers on paper and go from there.
So imagine my shock when I get an email about a week later that there was a wheelchair that had been donated to the local MDA office and they wanted Manny to have the chair. The donator only wanted the chair to go to a good family. They thought of us.
And I wondered about this chair. And it's owner. Was this chair donated because the kid outgrew it or because they no longer needed it? And in my heart I prayed that we would somehow get to know who it came from.
Meanwhile, Manny has been in the hospital (as you all know) so I didn't think much of the chair any more.
Saturday was the MDA walkathon. We were all out there with close to 1000 other people where lots of money was raised. As I stood at the starting line about to push Manny on the walk, a lady leans over and says, "Is this Manny?" I didn't recognize her and she said that it was her daughter's chair that was being donated to us.
At that moment I knew.
I immediately grabbed that lady and hugged her. We stood there hugging and crying. Why? because I got my answer. That lady (and many others around her) were wearing pink t-shirts that said, "In memory of Bella Rose". And on the back of the mom and dad's shirt, it said something like, "I'd walk to heaven and back just to see her face again." with a picture of Bella Rose.
And the stark reality of this world hits hard in a moment like this.
I walked around the rest of the track in tears most of the way.
And as we walked, I noticed the father of Bella Rose pulling an empty wagon. A symbol.
Today, I get a call from the Wheelchair rep, Gary. He said if we're going to be home, the chair is ready. Before he got any further, I told him that I had gotten to meet her family this weekend. He started telling me about how virtually impossible it was for him to go get that wheelchair from the family. He recounted about how he had worked so hard for her to get it, how he delivered it on her birthday (apparently not all that long ago).
I told him that I would be thrilled to get the chair, but couldn't promise that I wouldn't be crying. He agreed.
I didn't tell Manny that his chair was coming, I thought I'd just surprise him. And true to Manny form, he didn't disappoint. He squealed in delight, clapped and "danced". It put a huge smile on the delivery guy's faces! Manny calls it his "Car".
I figured it would be pink, considering it was Bella Rose's favorite color. But ... it is blue. Hmmm. I guess Gary noticed me looking at that and told me the story. It's not a fancy story, but bottom line is ... Manny has a blue wheelchair. It's in perfect condition. Barely used. All paid for. A gift I can hardly get my head around.
I'm sure he'll be speeding around in it in no time, terrorizing the cats no doubt.
But tonight, as you rejoice with us over the gift of this chair, please pray for Bella Rose's family. I cannot imagine the loss they are feeling. They must feel so lost and empty. Pray for the peace that passes understanding. Pray for generous blessings for them.
I know I will, every time I see Manny in his "car".