My niece Ashley was born with a heart condition called Epstein’s Anomaly. It caused her heart to be enlarged to the point where it needed shunting in order to function. This little girl has endured many a open heart surgery. She currently has a pacemaker in to help regulate her heartbeat. And actually, she wasn’t even supposed to live this long. As a matter of fact, she wasn’t supposed to do a lot of things. She has amazed and educated her doctors. They are in fact, more dumbfounded at her abilities now at the age of 17, then they were when she was 3. She’s had a stroke, a tracheotomy, and in one week had 3+ open heart surgeries making her total somewhere around 10+.
And yet, after all that has happened to her, she continues to be strong. She is the most social person I know. Even more so than her mom. She knows everyone…and I mean EVERYONE! And she don’t care, she’ll start up a conversation with anyone. And everyone knows her.
She doesn’t judge nor does she see that she gets judged for her disabilities. It doesn’t matter to her, she loves everyone and everything. She has a free spirit about her. She doesn’t let things get her down or let obstacles get in her way. She’s caring and considerate (for the most part) and always willing to help. She’s how each of us should strive to be as human beings.
Don’t get me wrong. She is far from the perfect child. But even with her flaws, she’s still an exceptional child. I call her child, but in 7 short months she will be 18 year old and an adult.
It seems like yesterday when I got that phone call that my sister had had a baby. I had no idea she was even pregnant. Mom had said that the baby wasn’t healthy and they didn’t know if she’d live even. It was an hour by hour, day by day situation. My dad came down to Austin the next day to pick me up and take me up to Minneapolis Children’s Hospital. And then I fell in love for the first time. How could one sweet little baby bring out such love for another human being. Amazing. And now, 17.4 years later, she shows the love every day.
Now most of you who’ll read this, will understand why I’m all about love all the time. I know it gets old and preacher-like, but hey, I have lived it, I have lost it, and I have experienced it in this child I’m proud to call my God Daughter.
So the next time you want to judge and criticize, just think back to Ashley and strive to be like her. I know I do every single day of her life.
I love you Ashley Marie Marlar!