Language lessons with Rachel


I’m watching Rachel do therapy. Watching her answer questions, amazed that she is able to answer yes/no queries, say the first sound of some words, and use colors for describing. She has come so far since the days of her dragging me to what she wanted and/or screaming while we try to hand her anything and everything just to have peace.

It is amazing to watch her progress, but also like swallowing a mug of rusty nails. Her therapist asks her if she wants the blue block. She signs yes and takes the green one. They drill it over and over until I am squirming in my seat, biting my lips, clenching my hands because I see the frustration mounting in Rachel’s face, fear the tantrum that might come, and, worse, I am sitting back in that developmental pediatrician’s office seven years ago, when Rachel was only two-years-old, bawling my eyes out, watching her fail test after test, realization dawning that life will never be easy for my precious child.

It is a strange feeling, to have this elation and soul-crushing grief share the same space in my heart. It is as if I will tear in half. Part of me rages and cries out to God, “Why?” The other half cries with relief, thanks God for the progress, because, at age nine, she is finally starting to communicate with some accuracy that the outside world can understand.

Sometimes I wonder if I will keep the pieces of myself together, how a soul can hold that many powerful emotions at once. But I cannot let go. I must clasp my burning heart together for Rachel. I must sit and watch therapy sessions even though I want to jump in and prompt her to answer, I want to run away when I see how hard it is for her, and I want to yell it to the world when she gets it right.

But I must settle for quiet, for high fives, for hugs, and accept her progress as she moves through life at her own pace. I must watch her fail, but not give in to my vortex of grief that pushes against me so that I can be there for her. I must accept the failures with the achievements. And I must accept the pace of her progress.

Rachel is beautiful, she is mine, and I love her for who she is.

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