Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: End (02/13/06)
TITLE: First steps
By Shannah Hogue
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We took her to the doctor; the tests came back with bad news. Her muscles weren’t developing correctly. We’d caught it early, but there were no golden promises. She might be normal by age five, with no problems at all. Or, she might never walk or run, might spend her entire life immobilized in a wheelchair.
It was the end of my dream of the ideal family: a husband, three children, two dogs and a minivan. Until now, our lives had moved right on schedule: marriage, pregnancies, preschools. But in a single doctor’s appointment, the dream fell apart.
For a few days, I mourned the loss of my dream. I didn’t want to give it up. But when faced with the choice between losing my dream or giving up on Anne, I knew what I had to do. With many tears, I let my dream die.
And armed with a new resolve, I gritted my teeth and we started a new life. We added physical therapy to soccer and karate. We left our playgroup so Anne could attend a special needs exercise group. There were long months with no glimmers of hope. But with time, effort, and a few meltdowns, Anne did improve. She learned to sit up alone (at 1 year); she started to scoot almost nine months later. Gradually, scooting became crawling. There was still no promise that she would walk, but this hope had become my new dream.
Then just as suddenly as it started, the journey came to an end.
Anne was three and a half when she first pulled herself up next to the couch. I’ll never forget the shock of walking into the room to see her leaning on the cushions, reaching for a book that her brother had left there. She grinned at me with such joy that I couldn’t help but laugh.
And then, finally, the glorious day came. One Sunday night, at the coaxing of her brothers, she let go of the couch and stepped out on her own. She only made it two steps before falling, but the way our family celebrated, you would have thought she’d gotten into Harvard.
The end of her first walk came only two steps after it started. But after three years of struggle and growth, it was a glorious triumph for our entire family.
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