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Ashley, my youngest daughter, has a genetic condition so rare it is still considered “incompatible with life.” Yet today, Ashley is twenty-five, and she hasn’t just survived. She rides horses and she competes in jazz dance recitals with her many friends with intellectual disabilities. When she gets a new dress, she twirls while modeling it for strangers, as if she is on Next Top Model. At age four, she made the front page of our local newspaper because she was so darned cute gritting her teeth as she pulled her walker toward the finish line in her first Special Olympics race. Surely,
In accordance with my faith, I lit a memorial candle for my beloved father this morning; it is four years today since he died in my arms. The candle will burn for more than twenty-four hours. Not only does it remind me of the grief I still feel, but it also represents the light that was my dad–and his fervent wish that I would persevere by embracing the opportunities that life offers.