Sunday, July 31, 2011

God, you knew this would make me mad at you

Veronica getting ready for ropes course

Things have changed drastically since my last post. While in Texas, I took my daughter to Peaceable Kingdom Retreat for Children (if you have money then give it to this place) for Camp Just Like Me (also needs money). This a camp sponsored by Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, TX  and is for children with Arthrogryposis (if you have more extra money then give it to this place, too).

To say that Veronica and I love this place is a total understatement. This was our third year as campers and it has changed our lives.

For one week, we get to forget the outside world. Veronica gets a chance to be the “cool kid.” And I get a chance to just be a regular mom with a regular kid. Veronica was able to SCUBA, do a high swing and zip line, watch movies in the private theater, play unlimited air hockey and arcade games, swim, practice her archery, and make friends that will undoubtedly last a lifetime.

The last night of camp Veronica fell on stage during the talent show and broke her left knee and fractured her right leg. I cannot even begin to describe this nightmare.

Veronica getting ready for archery

I sat in the audience and watched the entire scene unfold. When you have a child that is prone to bad falls, you quickly learn that she needs a lot of open space to walk. I guess everyone got caught up in the fun of watching these children shine on stage and forgot to clear the stage.

I knew the set-up on stage was a mistake from the start. I got that feeling in the pit of my stomach that things were getting out of control too quickly. I watched Veronica and her best friend walk too closely to each other and then I did something—I lowered my video camera and watched the horror unfold in slow motion.

The girls fell and Veronica’s legs got pinned underneath her. She began screaming, “Oh my Gosh, oh my gosh!” I don’t remember much after that. I ran onstage and grabbed my little girl and I could tell her little legs were twisted in an unusual shape.

I held her close to my chest and whispered in her ear, “it’s okay baby, Mommy’s got you.” I looked over her shoulder and mouthed the words, “her leg is broken” to the nurse—she nodded in confirmation.
Veronica's SCUBA lesson

All of the sudden I realized that everything was very quiet and everyone was looking at us. The young camp counselors seemed to be in shock. But the parents in the room seemed to know exactly what was going on—this scene was all too familiar to them. We all know what it is like to watch your child fall down and break an arm or a leg or both—their joints are static and it leaves them vulnerable to these types of injuries.

I have been told that I have an amazing ability to appear to be a very composed and rational person despite the fact that my world is constantly throwing me curveballs. For some reason, I was able to keep my composure again despite the anxiety. But for the first time in a long time I wanted to hold my child to my chest and scream at the top of my lungs.

Veronica's first catch

At that moment I hated God. If he had been standing in front of me I would have told him to “fuck off.” I would have asked him, “Is this some sort of sick joke?  Has this child not suffered enough for you?”

But I kept my wits and held in the tears and waited for our ride to yet another emergency room. The camp is in a rural area of Texas, so I had time to calm myself on the 30 minute ride to the ER. 

I kept thinking, “Why is this happening? What will I say to Veronica?”

While Veronica and I were hanging out in the back of the ER waiting to see the doctor, I felt it was time to address the reality of the situation.

“Honey, I’m not sure if your leg is broken, but you have obviously done something bad to your knee.”

She began to cry again. “Mommy, why does bad stuff always happen to me?”

I held back the tears and took a deep breath, “I don’t know, sweetie. But I do know that everything happens for a reason so let’s try to look at this situation and see what God is trying to tell us.”

We sat silent for a moment and then I said, “Sweetheart, you want to know what I think? I think it’s time that you and I come to terms with the fact that you are disabled and that falling and hurting yourself is just going to be a fact of life. But you can’t let this destroy you—you have to find the strength inside yourself to overcome this pain and frustration and become a bright light in a dark world.”

Dinner in the lodge

Veronica sat quietly in her wheelchair for a few moments—she seemed to be soaking in my words. “I guess, but I’m just so tired of all of this. I just want to be normal.”

“I know you do sweetie, but you are not. You are special for a reason and you have to keep on living so you can find out what your purpose is.”

She nodded. “Don’t worry, Mom. Even if I never walk again, I will still be okay because my friends from camp will always like me just the way I am.”

I held in my tears until I got back to Savannah. Robby picked us up at the airport. After he hugged the kids, he turned and looked me in the eyes and hugged me. I cried like a baby. It felt good to let it all out.  He whispered in my ear, “it’s okay baby, I got you.”
Veronica having fun at camp

I’ve learned something from this tragedy—it’s okay to be mad at God. He knows that I am mad at him right now and that I don’t understand why my sweet baby has to have 2 broken legs after she has finally recovered from a very intense foot surgery.

He also knows that one day all of this drama will make sense to me. But until then, I will be mad at the world and he will just have to be understanding of me for a change.

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