Monday, November 18, 2013


It's been a while between posts, and although I've been quiet here, things have not been quiet around the Valente household. Life has a way of chugging right along, and quite frankly lately I feel like I'm running to keep up. I hadn't planned on writing a post tonight, but something happened today that I just needed to share.

To begin I need to back up - about 8 and a half years. Within hours of Abby's birth she was flown to the University of Michigan hospital. Everyone there was pretty fantastic, but there are a few lovely people that stand out. One of these angels was Nurse Joanie. Joanie was the one that got Abby chugging her bottle like a pro, she was the one that stayed well past her shift one night in order to make sure Abby's IV got put in right, and she was the one that told us the night before Abby came home, "You need to go out and have a nice dinner, just the two of you. After all, you have the world's most expensive babysitter." In short, we loved Nurse Joanie.

This afternoon, while my students were working quietly at their desks, my phone made an interesting "chirp". I looked down to see that I had a message from Nurse Joanie. After school I took a peek at it and saw that she was referring me to the blog of a lovely family who is currently at the U of M. In fact she was directing me to one particular post.

As soon as I could I popped over to the post and got to reading. I could feel the lump in my throat getting bigger as I realized what was to come. See, a few years ago Abby was chosen to be part of a special project for the new children's hospital U of M was building. The project was called "The Walls of Hope". Photographs of children who had been in the NICU were taken by a wonderful photographer and were paired with photos of them when they were at the hospital. These beautiful pictures now line the walls of the NICU and are there in order to offer hope to those parents who are currently spending many agonizing hours there. I sat at my desk reading about this young family, who had gone through a difficult birth which resulted in one of their twins needing to stay in the NICU. After receiving the news that, along with numerous health concerns, their daughter also had Down syndrome, the mother talked about walking the halls of the hospital. I could so clearly remember being there, having the feeling that all of my "plans" for Abby had changed and I was faced with a future that was uncertain and not what I had expected.

Just as this frightened mother was wondering what her daughter's future might look like, she spied Abby's picture. She saw her gentle smile and the sunlight shinning through her hair as she played in a field of flowers. She talked about how Abby's picture gave her hope. And that's when I cried.

Seeing Abby, along with the obvious fact that this young mother's faith is strong, had helped her come to the realization that her daughter's future was destined to be different, but it could be so much more than she'd ever expected.

Once again today I was reminded how very precious Abby is. I was once again amazed, and humbled, by my own child. I will never know how far reaching an impact that little girl has had. I will never know the number of lives that she has made better, by simply being who she is. Tonight I sit in amazement at the Great God who's wisdom is far beyond any I could ever have, and I am thankful - very thankful indeed.

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