Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Girl Who Changed My Life

Have you ever had someone enter your life in a quiet way and one day you realize, that without intending to they totally changed your life, your outlook, your inner being?

My unknowing savior came into my life when I was in 6th grade. Or at least that was the year I took serious notice of her. I think I had seen her before that year once in a while trying to rush for the bus, but in the 6th grade her joy, her smile, her love of life caught my eye and I found myself in awe.

She didn't even have classes at our school, she was also a few grades behind me, but she was there at the end of most days to catch the bus and ride home with her brothers.

In 6th grade I started to become aware of those around me. Stopped dwelling on my own existence, started noticing that others had it so much worse than I did. Or that had it so much better than I did.. this is the category I put Allison in.

I don't ever think I saw her not smiling. As she made it along the sidewalks through the crowds, it didn't matter how careless others were, getting in her way, stopping her progress, she would always seemingly make room for them, and without any words spoken would always yield that right of way, like she was never rushed. Always enjoying the moment for what it was.

To this day I am not sure what her disability was. But she was sick a lot. She always had to walk with crutches and she had braces on both legs. I am trying to remember the details, I think she actually had wooden legs at a certain point, as her condition worsened. I know she must have been in horrible pain some days, but you would never know it. She loved life! Every moment!

The next year I moved on to middle school then high school and I never saw Allison again. But that one year changed me, changed my life forever.

When I gave birth to my daughter.. and was faced with all the bad news... All the doomsday predictions... All I could see in my mind was Allison. I knew at that moment that that was why Allison was placed in my path and in my heart and I never once doubted that Amy was going to be just fine, no matter what life threw at her, at us. Thanks to Allison I knew that it wasn't being a perfect person that made you have a happy life. Having a happy life was what helps you to be a perfect person!

When Amy and I moved back to Washington state I had the horrible circumstance to open the newspaper and see Allison's name in the obituaries. She lived until age 21. I had never met her parents, but had gone to school with her brothers so I sat and penned a letter to them. To express my sadness, but mostly to thank them for being the kind of parents they were. That didn't hide Allison away. That obviously had loved her so much that she could face every day so full of joy and love. I talked of her impression made on me. I told them about my Amy and that I didn't think that I would have had the courage to face what I was going to have to face over the years to come.. if it hadn't been for their example. After I mailed the letter I wondered if it was the right thing to do.

I got the most beautiful letter in return. Thanking me for my story of how Allison had made a difference. They said she had conquered most of her disabilities, was even working in a sheltered workshop and was so excited to have her own job and her own money. But a simple cosmetic improvement caused an infection that quickly took her life following the surgery. To think she was trying to fix .. what to me had been such a beautiful smile.... it just breaks my heart.

It is part of the reason each time a doctor mentions anything "cosmetic" with Amy I refuse to even consider it. I wondered sometimes, if there was another boy or girl, that went to school with Amy that may have had their life changed.. because Amy has that same smile, that same inner joy.

Here's to you my special angel Allison!

And here's to you all my new friends! May we all have the joy of making a mark in each other's worlds!

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