As I write this, I’m sitting on my cozy brown couch with Mitzie at my feet. I’ve had a rather hard time getting started today, and I think it’s because of the emotion that surrounded this past weekend! Key Ministry’s Executive Director, Rebecca Hamilton, and I, along with Rebecca’s daughter, Abby, and my daughter, Annie, taught a breakout session the Bioethics Conference/Through the Roof Summit at Cedarville University on Saturday. Many thanks to Joni and Friends Ohio for inviting us!
Before we got settled in our lecture hall, we had an opportunity to meet Joni Eareckson Tada. She is as kind and lovely in person as you would expect, and it was an honor to spend a bit of time with her. For me, this experience was particularly special. I read Joni’s first book when I was 11 years old, and it made a tremendous impact on my life. Her story motivated me to study, write and consider special education as a career. And, when Annie got sick, I re-read one of her books while we were living in the hospital and struggling to understand suffering. To have an opportunity to thank her personally was a precious gift to me!
It was a profound joy to watch my very own daughter bravely, gracefully tell her story and speak boldly about the Lord…at a national conference! This precious child of mine, once so close to dying, was leading adults and helping them to think “outside of the box” for ways to reach children who desperately need a friend. During the conference session, Annie described ways to make connections between kids with special needs and typically developing peers and mentors.
After our session, a lady approached Annie. “You mentioned that you had Moyamoya Disease,” she said. “MY daughter has that, too!” The three of us began chatting, and sharing surgery and hospital stories. As we talked, we realized that the same surgeon who worked on Annie had also worked on this lady’s daughter.
And suddenly, I connected the dots.
I turned over her name tag and my heart skipped a beat. “Tammy! It’s YOU!”
Ten years ago, I got a phone call on a chilly afternoon. Dr. Bass, Annie’s neurologist, was calling to ask if I might be willing to chat with a young mom whose four year-old had just been diagnosed with Moyamoya disease. “She has a lot of questions, and she would really like to talk to another mom who has been through it.”
“Absolutely!” I replied. Tammy and I shared a long chat on the phone, discussing fears and sharing some tears as well. Annie and I went to the hospital after Tammy’s daughter’s first surgery to visit…I remember bringing some pictures of Annie to show Tammy and her daughter, Rebecca, how quickly the swelling would resolve and hair would grow back. We stayed only about 10 minutes.
…and now, 10 years later, we were standing together once again, both of us in tears.
“You came to the hospital!” she exclaimed. “It’s YOU…you brought pennies for Rebecca to throw in the fountain…” I couldn’t believe the details that she remembered from that 10 minute visit!
Annie asked permission to email Rebecca, and I imagine that they will forge a friendship that none of us will ever be able to understand…because they are connected in a very unique way.
Saturday was all about connecting the dots…
From me as an 11 year-old reading a book called Joni to Saturday…decades later, meeting the author who so inspired me as a teen and comforted me as a mom.
From Annie, a very sick little girl who couldn’t speak at all to a young woman teaching and leading in a unique way.
From a short phone call and visit between two moms who shared the unique experience of loving a child through brain surgery, to two moms reunited and celebrating health and progress.
And God gets all the credit for drawing this dot-to-dot…I can’t wait to see the picture He is creating!