Today’s letter is dear to my heart. It’s to Sarah, a woman who has special needs. Sarah works at a local gym I’ve been a member of for years. She’s employed by eQuality, a “community based program that assists adults with developmental disabilities with finding and maintaining competitive and contracted employment.” eQuality’s goal is to “help each individual find meaningful work, grow and develop personally, and participate in their community.”
I originally drafted this post about Sarah in June 2012, one month before my blog launched. I spent the next 16 months jumping through hoops and waiting for the perfect time to publish it (read more after the letter if you’re interested). This past week, I had the opportunity to meet with Sarah’s mom in preparation for publication. She is LOVELY, kind, and intelligent. I enjoyed our time together tremendously, and was blessed by our conversation. I’m certain that you’d adore Sarah’s mom just as much as I did.
Sarah’s mom provided a brief medical history so you have a little context before you read the letter…
Prior to Sarah’s 4th birthday, she started having seizures. A neurologist conducted a CT scan and discovered a large low grade tumor in her brain. Sarah’s family got her in for surgery to remove the tumor immediately. After surgery, the oncologist recommended that Sarah receive radiation. Because of surgery and radiation, Sarah developed right side weakness, acquired a hearing impairment, had some vocal fold paralysis, permanently lost hair in certain areas, and developed a short stature because the radiation hit her pituitary gland. A neuropsychologist indicated that she also had frontal lobe brain damage. Sarah lost her ability to walk, but because she “perseverated” on everything so much, she kept trying – she learned to walk again and learned to ride a bike! Sarah’s mom indicated that Sarah was in special education from the age of 4 or 5-years-old.
Sarah has a great sense of humor, is stubborn, and generous to a fault. Sarah’s mom knows her daughter from every which angle, and clearly loves her very much. She is blessed with a wonderful family who love and support her. Sarah was fortunate to have a great social worker who found her a place to live independent of her parents and helped her secure meaningful work through eQuality.
It’s a true honor to be able to share this letter with you today.
You move down the row cleaning bikes and treadmills, one by one.
Wipe each seat not once, but twice.
Make each lever, each handle clean again.
Wheels and base, you don’t forget those either.
Up on the treadmill, wipe, wipe. Swish, swoosh. Up, down. Over, across.
Souls step off the treadmill when it’s a little high, a little hard. You reset inclines back to zero. Some require adjustment more than others.
Up and down, down and up again. Each treadmill is tended.
You never flinch, never complain, never show signs of distress. You complete the task set before you, to make all things new.
Window sills and vents, your job is to dust. Swipe, swipe, right to left, left to right. Next, next. Dust and dirt barely perceivable to the naked eye, but you know, He knows. The dust is there, worthy of great care.
And when you’re done, you take your rag, take your bucket, and walk away.
You’ve been ever present in the quiet, cleaning dust out of the smallest spaces. Unseen by most, but necessary, beautiful.
I’m blessed those days, in the precious moments of quiet observation. Your presence reminds me of God who humbles Himself to lowly us. He moves in the quiet sometimes, unassuming, without us even aware. He brings our incline back to zero after we’ve thrown in the towel. We start fresh, anew, every single day. It’s a holy wiping out, a cleaning out of little spaces, hidden places.
So thank you Sarah, for blessing and gracing me with your presence. If there was ever an angel in disguise, it would certainly be you.
*If you’d like to read more from my #31Days Letters to the Unthanked series, click here for the landing page where all the letters are listed and linked!
SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT THIS POST
I’ve jumped through MANY hoops to share this story with you today, the most hoops I’ve jumped through to publish a post on the blog to date. But I’ve been persistent, because I believe Sarah’s story is worth telling.
JUNE 2012: One month before my blog launched, I drafted Sarah’s post in Evernote while I was walking on the treadmill. I’d been watching Sarah work for months, and was moved so many times that one day I composed a blog post right there, on the spot at the gym on my iPhone.
FALL 2012: I approached Sarah’s job coach to see if I could be put in contact with her family. I hoped to speak with them and obtain permission to share Sarah’s photograph and story on my blog. My request was forwarded to Sarah’s case manager who shared that they provide their associates with the utmost levels of privacy, therefore, the family’s identity and contact information could not be shared with me. I was in tears, but let it go and decided there’d eventually be a way if it was meant to be.
APRIL 2013: Something came over me. I decided to move Sarah’s draft from Evernote into my WordPress blog. I spent 45 minutes editing the post, and the next day sent an email to Sarah’s case manager with the blog post attached. I kindly asked if he would forward the post to Sarah’s family. I wanted them to at least see the post, and perhaps they’d consider giving me permission to post it on the blog once they’d read it. Sarah’s parents contacted me via phone a couple days later. They loved and were honored by the post, and were open to sharing it as long as Sarah’s privacy was maintained.
JUNE 2013: I sent an email to Sarah’s case manager indicating Sarah’s parents had given permission to publish the post, but needed to find a way to take Sarah’s picture at the gym. I didn’t hear back and didn’t follow up because I’d found myself in summer craziness with three kids at home. 🙂
OCTOBER 2013: Sarah’s post was still on my mind. I knew it would fit perfectly in my “Letters to the Unthanked” #31days series, so I contacted Sarah’s mother who gave me permission to include it!
I share these details with you today because I believe if God wants a story to be told, He will make a way. We just need to be patient and wait for His perfect timing. A huge thank you to Sarah’s family for allowing me to share her story here today.