There are certain times that words echo in our minds. The words of the doctors saying “take her home and hope she smiles” or the time another said, “with work, her vision can improve” or even the words of one particular therapist at Easter Seals. Her words will echo in my head and in my heart forever. I will explain this moment when time stood still.
When I was pregnant with my second child, Olivia was only about 18 months old. Remembering the nightmare of events that occurred with Olivia, we were very nervous about the pregnancy and delivery. All went smoothly and on September 29th 2009 Amelia, Olivia’s sister, was born without complications. After Amelia was born, I heard numerous times that “Amelia will be good for Olivia.” I agreed that this child would be able to help Olivia during development or struggles that may arise in the future. Maybe even helping her in ways that I didn’t realize at the time.
But what I didn’t realize was that there was another perspective, another way to look at this scenario. Bridgette, Olivia’s occupational therapist, would say something to me that literally stopped my world. In conversation with Bridgette, I repeated what was said to me so many times…”She [Amelia] will be good for Olivia”. And Bridgette looked at me without hesitation and said with passion, “and Olivia will be good for her”. **Insert: frozen moment in time** Wow! I repeated that phase in my head…Olivia will be good for Amelia….Why have I never looked at it that way? YES! Olivia WILL be good for Amelia!!!
Bridgette’s follow-up statements explained that her brother has Down Syndrome and he was partially responsible for shaping her into the person she is today. In a way, he had even influenced the profession she decided to pursue. She said that she didn’t know it at the time, but that every game they played as kids were actually a form of therapy for her brother. She elaborated on her story and I began to understand.
This is so evident to me now. Everyday we watch interactions between these two loving sisters. We see Amelia being an untrained physical, occupational, speech, and vision therapist. We witness caring and compassion that can not be taught. I not only see the love they share for each other, but I feel it as well. Now don’t get me wrong…they can fight, scream, yell, and cry just like other siblings, and that is okay too because that is normal, and we rejoice in anything that is ‘normal’.
And last week, when we were at Wheeling Hospital where Olivia had and EKG and ECHO. Amelia (or Mimi as Olivia calls her) sat and held her hand when Olivia’s anxiety increased and she became upset about the technician attaching the monitor leads. Amelia grabbed her hand and said, “It’s okay Olivia, it won’t hurt.” And during the Echocardiogram when Olivia was finally calm enough to let them place the ultrasound transducer on her chest. Amelia whispers in my ear…”Mommy, Olivia is doing so good, isn’t she?”
I will never forget hearing that statement from Bridgette that day 4 years ago. Those words had emotionally impacted me in such a way that I now appreciate what each of my girls bring to each other. Every time I repeat this story to someone, I just can’t get through it without my eyes welling up with tears. Those words truly echo within me.
Pictured: Echocardiogram picture of our sweet Olivia’s heart.
This story and names are used with permission:
“I can't even begin to tell you how honored I am to be a part of a memory as strong and positive as this one. You have really touched my heart and I cried tears of joy and celebration that my brother's life and legacy were able to shine through me and be passed on to such a wonderful family. Yes, please share this story. Maybe it will be an "aha" moment for another family.” -Bridgette