Guest Post Written by Chrissy Miller, Mom to Superhero Jackson, Cameron & Natalie
When you’ve gone through a traumatic experience, an illness or a life-changing event, it’s difficult to find peace in it and understand its magnitude or meaning. Sometimes, it take years to be able to look at the shadow with resolve, restitution and respect… and with gratitude.
This past weekend, my family traveled from our new home in Indianapolis back home to Chicago. This trip had a very different feel to it, in many ways. It wasn’t about coming home to see our family, which is rare and felt strange, really. We were traveling to celebrate and share communal love with our other family…our Lucky Cast Club family.
Shriners Hospital for Children in Chicago was ever-so gracious to host its 2nd annual Scoliosis Awareness and Celebration picnic in honor of the beautiful warriors who have battled and continue to climb the challenging walls of Infantile Scoliosis. The magic was illuminated with clowns, games, food, crafts, play and friendship. No rain would dare to dampen the spirits of the children who continually show us all that you can’t hold them down!
Ranging in ages from 11 months to 6 years old with a plethora of casts, braces and surgeries representing them all, our kiddos and their families shared a special day that we will hold close in our hearts and take with us further along our journeys forever. Watching children who typically meet while waiting in holding rooms or pre-op beds, solidify friendships over checkers, basketball, a bag of Doritos or the playground slides was more than my heart could process.
My son, Jackson, who has been removed from the hospital scene since his journey of brace life began in 2011, felt a prideful and passionate connection to fellow warriors and superheroes who in some cases, were strangers prior to that day. That didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that the littlest warriors Cody and Makenna, barely making their way around the room were in casts, or that his buddy Massimo, who he shared junk food and compared brace straps with, sported a full torso brace like him.
See these kiddos don’t see that. When together, they are not different. There is nothing that makes them stand out other than their sparkling and unique personalities and superhero powers. It’s like being in a VIP club of the Avengers Jr. They are strong. They are mighty. They are powerful and perfect. They are warriors; not with baggage, pain or scars behind them to tell their story, but wisdom, strength, resiliency and reverence that humbles anyone in their presence. They are beautiful.
More beautiful is the hope that radiates from them all together. As they all made their way to surround our Santa Claus of Scoliosis, Dr. Hammerberg and Nurse Linda (who I suppose would then be “Mrs. Claus”) for a group photo, one standing back and taking in this spectacle would only see this. The perfect imperfections of our children…the shadows of each child’s history and struggle blending together to form one spiritual and savoring aura of something radiant and beautiful. Something that tells those of us who know one another’s journey that it IS going to be okay. That this here…this mix of minnions, with curves ranging from 8 to 58, or conditions and conflicts unwelcomed at diagnosis, is your family. And that despite what lies ahead, you will not be alone…You are understood. You are accepted and embraced, you are carried and prayed for. You are not just a statistic or a story. You are one of us. You are not a darkness in the shadow, but a lasting light we hold lovingly.
Dr. Hammerberg chasing little Cody...LF: Declan, Cody Giana, William, Lauren, Payton, Jackson, Massimo, Kiya & Chloe
LR: Dr. Hammerberg, Linda C., RN & Makenna
As my family looks behind us at the shadow of Jackson’s journey in casts and sees the light shining ahead of us with our ever-so-sacred time in brace, we are able to now begin to feel the magnitude and quietly behold with blessing, the meaning of Jackson’s journey. God did not curse us or punish us. HE did not choose Jackson out of chance, but out of LOVE… To teach us about selfless purpose and family beyond blood. To connect us beyond our own lives, to a greater life and purpose. To teach. To inspire. To learn. To love greater than your own.That is beautiful and for that, I am grateful.