"What does she have?"
To the kind lady behind the counter at the dress shop, I apologize. I'm so sorry I was stunned and speechless. As soon as I left your shop the answers to your question flooded my soul. How I wish I would have shared with you, but I needed to make my exit before the tears fell from my eyes.
Ash doesn't have anything. I mean there is no label. No diagnosis. No disorder or disease. I wasn't sure how to answer your question.
As I left the parking lot I wished so desperately that I had had the courage, the poise, the presence of mind to have answered your question more appropriately.
"What does she have?"
Please let me share.
She has life.
She has breath.
She has a healthy liver.
She has a functioning bowel.
She has eyes that sparkle.
She has a smile sweeter than any I'd ever seen before hers.
She has a mommy.
She has a daddy wrapped around her little finger.
She has a big brother who adores her.
She has a big sister who loves her so very much.
She has four years of hard won battles to her name.
She has a will to live.
She has a strength that I can only admire.
She has a Saviour.
She has a home.
She has grandparents, and aunts, and uncles, and cousins, and friends, and prayer warriors, and a community.
She has a teacher, a team of therapists, and a horse who work miracles with her each and every week.
She has a donor.
She has JOY.
She has a story.
Ashley Kate "has" so very, very much. She has so much more than anyone in her earliest of days would have ever dreamed she could have.
It still shocks me when I realize that people do notice she's different and therefore they are curious about "what she has." I don't know when it will stop shocking me. I called my sister and asked her if it was really that noticeable. I needed an honest answer. I needed to hear it from someone whom I knew loved her despite her difference, but yet was still able to tell me the truth. In our eyes we see Ashley as perfect. Not different. Not anything other than wonderful.
As I listened to her words the tears did pour from my eyes and I said, "I would give anything for her to be like every one else." Then she said this to me, "I wouldn't. I wouldn't want her to be any different than who she is. For if she was anything different than exactly who she is we wouldn't be the people we are today. Its her differences that changed us. Because of "what she has" God has made us all different than who we used to be."
See why I took my broken heart to my sister? I knew she would help me find perspective. I also knew she would allow me to cry my tears over the hurt that accompanies the joy parenting our sweet Ashley brings.
I'm still looking for the right words. Still trying to figure out how to kindly and appropriately answer those who are curious about my beautiful girl. The cashier was not unkind and not out of line. She was simply curious and inquired. Its ok for people to do that. It really is. I think I would rather them ask than ignore and pretend she's not there. I'd also rather they ask than pass judgement on her behaviours.
"What does she have?" Such a difficult question to answer in a brief moment. I'm still working on it.