Everyday and I mean everyday, is a quest to conquer equality for Olivia. Can you imagine what that’s like? Between making sure she receives the same opportunities as her peers, that she is given respect and her dignity preserved, that she be acknowledged and celebrated equally with her siblings (birthdays and other special occasions), that she truly be “seen” beyond the wheelchair, orthopedic braces, feeding tube, involuntary movements, etc . etc . etc. Every single day I strive for others to see what lies beneath Cerebral Palsy.
Olivia is so beautiful. She has the bluest eyes that sparkle when she looks at you. Oh and that smile….be still my heart. She can make the coldest heart melt with the warmth from that smile. Olivia is intelligent. She loves to read books about animals and silly, funny characters like those in many of the Robert Munche series. Olivia knows her primary colors and is beginning to recognize letters from the alphabet, just like other kindergarteners. Olivia loves to play and use her imagination. She enjoys playing dolls and pretend school, she loves board games like Candyland and Trouble, and making crafts with her sister. And most importantly, Olivia has feelings.
Olivia loves and she hurts. She knows what it feels like to be left out, believe me I’ve wiped away those tears one too many times. She gets excited for her birthday, well any birthday she can celebrate really; but what can I say, the girl loves a party! At the tender age of four, Olivia also feels her differences. I’ve experienced the frustration she feels when all she wants to do is run after her sister and brother, but her legs won’t allow it. Yup, those moments kill me on the inside, but on the outside I have to remain her cheerleader, encouraging her never to give up.
This folks is what lies beneath the package of Cerebral Palsy. My daughter, a person just like you and I. A little girl who wants others to know her and love her for the happy, funny, impish and oh so adorable kindergartener she is. To see her as we see her, to look beyond the package and to see the beauty of what lies inside.