The other day I ran to Safeway to get something for dinner. As I walked in a woman and I exchanged glances and then looked way. It took us both a minute to realize we knew each other an then hit us both at the same moment. We each greeted each other warmly and caught up right there in front of the supermarket.
Her name is Sherry and I knew her many years ago when Maggie was very little. Her twins are the same age as Maggie and we did a lot of the early intervention stuff together and went to all the same birthday parties and other social outings.
Sherry was a single mom, which is overwhelming, of twins, which is also overwhelming, and one of them had serious medical issues, which is incredibly overwhelming. Those early years were incredibly difficult for her.
By the time the kids were about four, we had already drifted apart as our lives took us in different directions. Her daughter's issues were medical, and she did not have the special education component that Maggie had. They went to different schools and life proceeded for all of us in different ways. Occasionally I would run into Sherry and we would catch up, but I think before last week, it had been about 10 years since I had seen her.
Of course I asked about her girls and was beyond delighted to hear that both are in college and that the one with the prior medical issues is now in nursing school. Really it took my breath away. I told Steve when he got home and he summed it up best. He said, simply, "That is outstanding."
When I think back on those early days it's very difficult to remember having any hope for the future. We were all so overwhelmed with the present, there simply wasn't time to think about the future. Keeping our kids alive was our first priority, and too many of my friends from those early days lost that basic battle.
When I arrived home I found myself very emotional, even a little teary. Initially, I wasn't really sure why and stopped to try to untangle all the different things I was feeling. I was so happy that things worked out so well for them, especially given the overwhelming start they all faced and I was sad for the kids who didn't make it. At the same time I felt extremely exhausted remembering those days and knowing I had been doing all of this for nearly 20 years. There were probably a hundred other things too, but those are the ones I could identify. I just kind of let things flow for a few minutes and then decided to concentrate on the happy.
Sometimes you just have to concentrate on the happy.
I am proud to have survived those early years and proud to know the people I met then and now in Maggie's World. We have all been tested in different ways and each of us has succeeded. Our kids have lived their lives - however short some were - in the best possible way and realized their potential. I just never knew then that potential was so high for some of them.
It is outstanding.