Special Needs are Special Blessings

My heart is heavy tonight. I’m not sure of the reason, but I’ve learned to accept such times as a ‘labor of my soul’. I know that God is doing something deep within me and eventually I will ‘give birth’ to something, as a result. In the interim, I just push through it without attempting to disrupt the process. I recently met someone whose special needs child passed on and it brought tears to my eyes. Tears for her loss, as well as, tears for some memories that surfaced.

Approximately eighteen months after my son passed on, I had quit my two jobs entirely. There were a few reasons for this decision, but more importantly is what it led to eventually. I sat back one day questioning myself as to what I wanted to be when I grew up. An odd way, perhaps, to go about things but I no longer wanted just a job…any job. I wanted to be doing something I loved. I realized that even as a little girl I always wanted to be a Mom. So, I decided on becoming a school bus driver. I went through the necessary training to acquire my CDL and then settled at a very large school bus depot that serviced a number of school districts. I had driven both large full-size buses, as well as, the handicapped buses.  One day, however, I was asked to fill in for another to drive the ‘wagon’ for some of the special needs children. These children were new to me.

Shortly after my son had passed on, I turned to another Mom at a bereavement group and stated: ‘I wonder what else we don’t know?’ I was about to find out one thing I hadn’t known. The children I drove in the mornings and afternoons to and from their schools ranged in ages from six to twenty-two. They were as different from one another as all folks are. I guess because I had never met many young people with special needs, I had a very narrow concept that simply lumped ‘those kids’ as a group rather than individuals. I’m very sorry that I was like that. I’m also very grateful that God made available the opportunity to learn how wrong I had been. After filling in for another gal a few times, I requested to have my own wagon. There was not a problem in getting one as drivers were not on a waiting list for this position. They didn’t know what they were missing.

As I got to know these kids, I eventually became very protective of them…they were ‘my’ kids and I referred to them as such even at home around my own flesh and blood children. I would see them every morning as they were blurry-eyed and freshly on whatever medications they had been prescribed; I would see them in the afternoon as their meds were wearing off. The differences in some were stark. Some that were quite sedated in the morning became incessant chatterers by the afternoon run. Others were just the opposite. Becky was a quiet AM one. However, in the PM, the others would turn to her and say: ‘Shut up! Becky” and she would just laugh. Another gal who was one of the older ones would start to ramble on about her ‘baby’ and had all kinds of stories to tell. The thing was is that she didn’t have a baby. She also made sure she got to drive shot-gun (an old saying for riding as the front seat passenger) every afternoon. She once interrupted one of her stories of her ‘baby’ and turned to me and asked: “Miss Jude, is it OK to pretend?” I responded by saying: “As long as you know you’re pretending”. At which point, she continued on with one of her stories.

Then there were those mornings in which the so-called ‘normal’ kids would point and laugh and say mean things as they saw the ‘wagon’ arriving at the school. That is when that hair on the back of my neck would go up and my protectiveness kicked in on overdrive. What I noticed, though, is that the kids in the wagon didn’t react. I could see a cloud of sadness descend momentarily, yet they just as quickly shook it away and returned back to their smiling and innately innocence.

They taught me so very much.

In addition, when they knew my birthday was approaching, they would all bring me one of their special possessions…a little stuffed bear, a comb, a little item to hang on my mirror. I was so overwhelmed by their love because it was so genuine. They gleefully and freely bestowed on me gifts of items that were special to them. Eventually, because of my spine, I was unable to continue on with that driving job. That was thirteen years ago and I still miss those special children with special needs that were special blessings to me. Never have I met more purer hearts.

I dedicate this to all those special Moms and Dads who have had the rare special blessing of having been entrusted by God with such special souls. I know it was very difficult, at times, on many different levels. But now I also know how deeply you were truly honored and blessed. I’m very sorry for the void you now feel in your lives. I truly believe that such pure hearts are now joyfully in the presence of their Creator.


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