I just looked at the last blog post I did and couldn’t believe it was six months ago! I’m always thinking of things to say, and they are constantly gelling in my head, but I never seem to get to the computer to actually draft a blog post. I really enjoy keeping my few readers up to date, but it’s been hard to write for some reason. Life is a roller coaster and emotionally-speaking so am I. Ugh. This grief thing is not fun.
That said, I will say that we are doing ok. People always ask, so I’m putting it out there. Through God’s grace and mercy we are surviving, and I’m just glad the year of “firsts without Csaba” is over. On to year two now.
What drew me to writing a blog post today though was not for an update of sorts. I was compelled by some messages Tom received from a mom whose youngest daughter knew Csaba at school last year.
The backstory is that Tom recently did a pro bono inspection for a family who wanted to move from a relative’s basement to a new home. The only connection between them and us, at first, was the desire to help out another local family via our church’s compassion ministry. I have to say how amazing it is to donate (expecting nothing in return) our time and resources to others and, amazingly enough, still get something out of it. Really, that’s the beauty of service to others…that God does indeed work all thing together for good (Romans 8:28).
The payment in this case was some precious memories that came out after the inspection was completed. Actually, the memories are more bittersweet, as I will explain…
Csaba started school at LA (abbreviated for privacy reasons) in August of 2013. He started as a third grader even though developmentally he was still performing at a first grade level and his IEP showed an IQ of 71 (which, for comparison purposes, is about 2 points above the average for down syndrome). Honestly I don’t know how many people knew this about Csaba, and maybe some of you are surprised. I held this information close to the vest as I didn’t want people’s pity (ironically enough, as that seems to be the norm these days) and I certainly didn’t want Csaba being treated as “different”. In retrospect, my intention was simply to protect my little boy. School is rough for an average kid, but it can be simply unbearable for a child with special needs.
In spite of my desire to protect him though, Csaba was different. And kids knew it right away. After Csaba passed away, I heard all sorts of stories about him and his time at LA. Many of them were good memories, and they warmed my heart. I believe that kids with special needs have a “fast pass” to God that allows for a purity of heart and unmuddled belief. Csaba had that. He was always a happy exuberant kid, with a passion for Jesus at 10 years old that rivals mine at 40-ish. Those are the stories I love hear. It all made me so proud.
But there is some heartbreak too. Let me share an excerpt from the aforementioned message Tom received from the mom he did the inspection for…
I [just] realized that that you are Csaba’s father. I had no idea, what a small world. My daughter, who was with us yesterday, used to attend LA and when she was there Csaba was a new student. She knew him well and spent a lot of time with him. She was also new that year and realized that he was sitting alone at recess. She and her best friend friended him and would try to eat quickly to get to the playground to spend time with him so he wasn’t alone. She was not at LA when we heard the news as I homeschool now but she was so upset as were so many. I am so sorry and have kept your family in my prayers even though I have not known you.
You are such a blessing to so many, including my family.
And then just today, Tom received this message from the mother’s older daughter:
I want to start off with this quote: “When God brings people together, then it’s always for a reason. Instead of worrying about the reason, it’s better let time unravel the reason for you and till then you should enjoy the beautiful now and the person God brought into your life.” God is always involved with all aspects of our lives. He influences the people we will come into contact with and how we come into contact.
This may not make sense now, but it will in a minute.
I want to tell you a short story about my little sister, J (the little girl with black hair that was playing with the dogs). J is 10yo and went to LA last year for 4th grade with her best friend & neighbor K. Anyway, My Mom went to J’s parent/teacher conference one day last year with Mrs. D. Mrs.D proceeded to tell her about how J and K befriended a little boy in 3rd grade who they saw sitting alone during lunch and recess because he was new to the school and didn’t speak english well. The girls told Mrs.D they wished the 4th and 3rd graders had the same lunch and recess times because it meant that this boy sat alone for 15 minutes before the 4th graders were released. Mrs.D proceeded to tell my Mom that “She wishes her own children will do the same thing if presented with the same situation.” This little boy was your son, Csaba.
Whether it be Gods will or your guardian angel, Csaba, they both wanted you to meet 1 of the little girls that made a positive impact on your son’s life here on earth. They became Csaba’s 1st friends at LA.
Needless to say, these messages affected me profoundly. Tom made the mistake of reading the first one to me in a restaurant and I proceeded to dissolve into the “ugly cry”. He pretty much regretted doing that, so the second one was read to me at home (thankfully). Now, I have to confess, I already knew about Csaba’s challenges in finding someone to play with at recess. We had talked about it and, ever the cheerleader, I would encourage him to seek out other kids (namely boys) who had no one to play with either. Or I would tell him to join in a game and hopefully they would include him. I fear I forgot how unforgiving school kids can be. I wish I had listened better.
ok, my point..?
Oh wait, let me digress a moment. I recently read the book “Wonder“…about a 5th grade boy who, after being homeschooled his whole life, chose to enter public school in fifth grade. The catch was that this boy had a face that was severely deformed. The book narrates from viewpoints of several main characters (various friends, a bully, a sister, etc.) and really delves into their thoughts and resulting actions. This book is fifth grade reading level, but I wanted to preview it before I read it with P over the summer. It made an impact on me all the same because I of course thought about my boys’ special needs the entire time. While neither of my boys is/was deformed physically, their brains are/were deformed (or, for lack of a better word, mentally disabled) by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome from their birth moms’ abuse. It’s not reparable. It’s what they will (and did) live with their entire lives. Sadly, It’s a heartbreaking reality of many kids born in Eastern European countries. And my boys were no exception.
Aaaaaaanyway, my point in this blog post (that is becoming more like a stream of consciousness) is fairly short and sweet. Even though my initial reaction was extreme heartbreak for my son, I saw it as a teachable moment for me. I believe firmly and avidly that the kindness that my kids show to others (especially those who are “different”) has a direct correlation to how I raise my kids. I am forever grateful to the girls who be-friended my son during his time at LA. It’s kids like that who will make this world a better place. I wish more boys had done that though, and maybe that’s a challenge to those reading this who have boys. Teach your sons to have compassion, to seek out those who are having hard times, to be-friend the lonely. If they are at reading level, have them read Wonder (I’ve heard at some schools it has been required reading…which is awesome). Hey, it really is ok if boys are tough and sensitive at the same time! ;)
But most importantly (and I know this has been said ad nauseum pretty much everywhere) BE the person you want your kids to emulate. If you demonstrate constantly what real love and compassion is, then it’s very likely your kids will follow suit. I mean, who knows. You just might have a talk with a teacher someday who says she “wishes her own children will do the same thing if presented with the same situation.”
Thanks for reading!