Once upon a time, there lived a little girl in Charleston with a big heart and a great lust for life. Although she held a fascination for the world, she was helpless to explore it. Braces covered her legs, and whenever she walked, she took stiff steps. Her adopted mother and father prayed every day for her limbs to move with grace, but the doctors gave no hope. They learned to accept the fate of their precious child, and they did their best to make her life comfortable.
When the rain came down, she listened in bed and delighted in the sounds. Shadows from the drizzling water reflected off her bedroom walls, causing her to drift into a fantasy universe. It was an enchanted place, filled with underwater fairies that guided her to faraway lands. In these lands, she was free to run through lush fields full of magical flowers.
She went to her special world as often as she could, and with every trip, she felt the strength returning to her body. Soon, she believed that she was invincible, just like every other girl and boy. But the strength lasted only in this place, and not in her waking life.
One day, as she relaxed in the grass and peered up at the powder blue sky, she noticed a dove as white as snow, soaring in-between the clouds. She watched in amazement as it glided through the atmosphere like an angel before descending and landing on her shoulder. Suddenly, she felt an overwhelming sense of joy and peace; this presence was familiar, and she recognized it as the spirit of Jesus. Her body softened, and she was infused with a new strength: a healing power full of grace and love.
Light shone into her eyes, and she inhaled and drifted into consciousness. The little girl returned to her waking life, but she did not feel Jesus leave her. She yawned and sat up on the bed, and as she turned her body, she noticed a peculiar sensation in her legs. Her eyes widened, and she threw off the covers and gazed down. She slid forward; one of her feet touched the cold wooden floor then the other. She allowed herself to continue rising while holding onto the bed and released to find herself standing without braces. She took a step, and another, and for the first time in her life, she walked by herself.
This little girl was my momma, Sandy.
– Washed Away: From Darkness to Light pg. 261
My momma, Sandy, was a fighter all of her life. She was born with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects a person’s body movement and muscle coordination. Currently, there is no cure for Cerebral Palsy, rather, it is a condition that an affected individual and family members learn how to manage. As a child, my mother walked with braces around her legs and tried to hide them underneath her long, cotton dresses. I don’t know if she felt sad or ashamed, but from the few pictures I saw of her during that time, she was always smiling and holding her fluffy, calico cat. I think that animals brought a lot of comfort for her, a way for her to cope with the mixed feelings she experienced from being adopted and having a physical disability.
Then one day, she had that dream; the dream of a dove that flew down from Heaven and sat on her shoulder. The next morning when she woke up, she walked for the very first time in her life without braces. The doctors were shocked; they had never seen such a thing before. Momma had experienced a miracle, but she would eventually lose her battle to her demons. The mental ones.
To be continued.