Monday, January 11, 2010

HANDS........


When you think of hands, what do think of first?  If you had asked me a few weeks ago, I would have told you of my mother's hands. Not her hands now, which she can wash with her favorite scented soaps and follow up with her matching lotions, but of her hands years ago, when I was a child. I'd have told you that her hands were so dry and cracked, bleeding at times from being elbow deep in denim 50 hours a week as she worked in a sewing factory all her life so she could buy her family of six groceries...only to take her dry and cracked, bleeding hands and give items back to the cashier when there still wasn't enough to cover the total bill. I'm sure her hands reached for items such as a scented lotion or something else she had hoped to splurge on since she had put in overtime for the week because I still brought home the Cocoa Pebbles or some other random and unnecessary item she allowed me get, because she wanted me to have it.

She now brings over the Cocoa Pebbles and other items my kids want, without anyone asking her to, because she doesn't want my hands to bleed. She knows I could go work full time and still raise my kids, manage appointments,  buy groceries including Cocoa Pebbles, manage the house, etc. etc. but she knows what it feels like to put stuff back, and she knows the bulk of my volunteering would have to go. She knows that all that I try to do for hearing impaired children and their families (my scented lotion) would be shelved for years, until I could afford the time again. All that hard work over the years, and her hands no longer bleed.

But now, I want to tell you about other sets of hands...
There are times in your life when you just connect with certain people for various reasons. Anyone who has had a child with special needs sometimes reaches a place in their life when they feel HANDS. Sometimes those hands come from inside the family, the community, support groups, God. Sometimes it comes from another family who knows what it's like to be unsure, scared, heart broken, devastated. Many times we parents don't even know if our children will be here the next day as their little bodies fight infections, disease, struggle to breathe and all we can do is beg for HANDS. We beg for doctors to use their HANDS to make the little hearts beat another day, we beg for family members to hold our HANDS til we hear some good news, we ask God to open his HANDS so we can place our guilt, our worries, our fears of the unknown into them so we can have the strength to sometimes do it all again the very next day. I've been blessed to feel all these HANDS at times.  And I think this is why I feel so connected to this family each time I'm around them...

I met the Simpsons a few months ago (read about that here). And as I watched them on stage, Todd belted songs that came from a place inside his soul, where only God's HANDS been. I learned how he'd fought for life as baby, as a child, and now as a young man, still going every few weeks for immune therapy, living with DiGeorge Syndrome. His mama has begged the doctors when he was little to make his heart beat another day, if I had to guess, I'd bet she's begged God too. I've been there, begging for the life of my child who was also born with a rare syndrome, hoping to walk out of a doctor's office without a surgery appointment, hoping the nurses can bring down a 104 degree temperature and get air in his lungs when he was a 7 month old fighting pneumonia, and many more times. I've felt relief when HANDS were opened, my burdens poured out, and in one of my most desperate times, I've promised to The One whose hands were open, that I would do anything, whatever He directed. And I'll bet you that Ina and Wes, Todd's parents, have done the same.


So after I met them, heard their story, felt that initial connection, I just asked if they would consider doing a charity concert for our HEAR Center. They said YES. Very excited (with my head only slightly swelling because I had just booked one our area's hottest bands!) I gave the good news to The HEAR Center. They were overjoyed and welcomed the help! I had in my head that we would make the center thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars I could not wait to do my first fundraiser. After a couple of bumps in the road and then a couple of actual road closings (the literal kind) I think I had forgot about HANDS. I found myself the day before the concert, needing HANDS to hold, and they were there. I found myself the day of, needing open HANDS to pour my anxiety into, and they were there. My biggest fear, was that we wouldn't sell all of those tickets. Snow and a hard freeze to follow that, prevented many people from going anywhere. There had been 10 people show up to the concert the night before we were told when we got there. I was worried, and everyone knew it, in fact, Ina, the HEAR Center and my friends were all fantastic at calming me down, assuring me that it will be fine. People came, because they wanted to hear Todd Simpson and Mojo Child play, people came because they wanted help the HEAR Center and people came because they wanted to support me.

I spent the first part of the concert feeling defeated because I had wanted to be able to hand over the thousands upon thousands which I knew this concert could bring, and I wasn't able to do that. I AM my own worst enemy and I know that. I finally sat down, stopped counting heads, and remembered why I was there in the first place. I took one look at Todd, and I heard my sweet MawMaw say, "God's got his HANDS on this one." And I knew He did. She made sure she told me that about my own child before she got sick and passed away. Seeing Todd on stage made me wish he was growing up with my little boy, showing him that unique is a good thing. But he can't he's already grown up. He's on stage playing and singing and doing what he loves to do, and being unique helped him get there. Many people in the crowd knew Todd was unique, because they were up dancing, singing, jammin' right along when otherwise they wouldn't...but they had no idea how unique he really is. Many had no clue that it took HANDS to get him where he is today. After every song, I gave him a HAND, because I love his music, I love the songs he sings, and I'm talking both on and off the stage.

When the show was over, it unfortunately ended when we all were hoping it never would, we all said our goodbyes, our thank yous and I walk out into the lobby where I see my circle of friends gathered and Todd is speaking to them. After they thanked him and told him how grateful they were to have been invited to watch him perform, he begins talking about how it is to have disabilities, and how important it is for him to give back. This is the "child" not the parents talking...and again I'm reminded of why I am there in the first place.

No, unfortunately we did not do the sell out show I had hoped for, I think God's HANDS showed me how to stay within His reach, ask for help when I need it, and learn, and I'm glad. Todd and his dad Wes who is part of the band Mojo Child, agreed to help us do another event in the future (maybe warm weather *smile*) and I will take everything I've learned from this event being my first ever, and we'll make it even better. I thank all those HANDS who showed up in the 12 degrees to come to this event (good thing it was inside) and we look forward to doing it again! We ended up with a good crowd, and I'm so glad we did this, and on behalf of the HEAR Center, we again Thank You! I've recommitted myself to helping those families with special needs children, even if my HANDS bleed, because I want to.

4 comments:

Christie said...

Valerie- You are one incredible woman, sister! This is AMAZING.

leah said...

Val, you are awesome. Completely and totally awesome- Rock on!

ann said...

Val, I love you and your two babies. Love Mother

rouchi said...

I think your spirit is something you should be proud of and its amazing how you do so many things at the same time. Kudos to you and your spirit. And what matters at the end is that you did you best and the effort will pay off soon. Love n hugs to you and do rub off some of your spirit on us too, I really need it trying to fight a bad system here.ALL THE BEST.