It’s hard to believe that just one year ago, my daughter walked at her high school graduation. I still don’t take it for granted. She strapped on her long leg braces ahead of time, rolled herself up the ramp, had a teacher place her walker in front of her, and walked those few yet powerful steps across the platform while an entire gymnasium stood and cheered. I had faith we would see that day. And that night, even though it was a wonderful blessed night, I knew it was not the pinnacle but only a great beginning!
I have tried to be very respectful of my daughter and her first year of college. It’s one thing to have your mom writing about you when you are a kid. It’s another thing to have your mom writing about you when you are an adult. I try to limit how much I talk about her on a personal level.
But I will make an exception this week for the blog. My daughter is now home for the summer, taking classes online, and working for a financial advisor. Her double major is still in place as she enjoys accounting and business. She’s technically halfway through her sophomore year after her first year of college and at this point plans to graduate in four years with a double major and a master’s degree.
Sometimes I laugh. Somehow my daughter didn’t get the supposed “memo” that those with severe physical disabilities should perhaps be needy, give up dreams, and watch the world from their wheelchair.
There have been highs and there have been lows too this past year. There was the first accounting test where the grade was not what my daughter wanted, and then there was the accounting test where she’d studied enough to earn the top mark in her class. There was the one time she and I had a major disagreement about a decision she made, and then the admission that, perhaps, I had seen some trouble coming, and I wasn’t as wrong as she’d originally thought I’d been. And the admission on my part that her decision turned out far better than I’d ever imagined.
Every time it rained, I thought of my daughter, unable to hold an umbrella, traveling across campus getting wet. Every time there was ice on the windshields, I thought about my daughter doing her best to scrape her windshield (try doing that from a seated position sometime) just to get to church on a snowy, cold, Indiana Sunday morning. And I think about her volunteering at her church, serving where she can, sitting there in her wheelchair greeting people on a Sunday morning with her beautiful, big smile.
I’ve watched as she’s made decisions regarding her finances, her studying, and her sleep habits. I am pleased to report it sounds as if all those decisions became more sound as the school year progressed. (At least most of them.)
I am more than pleased with the relationship she and I have right now. I’ve done it. I’ve let go and she acknowledges how much she appreciates my treatment of her. I’ve also found that if I keep my mouth shut, she will actually seek my advice. I extend invitations to her for events and dinners as opposed to expectations for her to attend and she is grateful for the inclusion yet lack of pressure if she says no. She respects that I respect her schedule.
Truth be told, Alissa Jagger’s mom has learned a lot during Alissa’s first year of college too.
However, it’s not her academics or independence or drive which makes me most proud; instead, it is her foundational thoughts which she seems to communicate with me more and more. I asked her for permission to share portions of two texts which she sent me during the school year. She may be 19 now but she’s a different kind of 19.
One day I received this from her: “People who actually go through tough stuff don’t have the luxury of withdrawing from people if they want to succeed. You don’t get to just shut down when things are actually tough.”
And then this gem: “I think until you really realize how fragile life is, you can’t free yourself from the fear of potential threats. You sort of have to come to accept the fact that life is short, there are real dangers in the world, and we can’t let the fear of tense situations debilitate us from living our very short lives to the fullest.”
For those who wonder how Alissa is doing, I assure you, she is her Father’s child doing her best to go about His business here on earth. She sometimes hits the mark and she sometimes misses the mark, but she is not going to let fear and difficulty stop her from living life to the fullest for Him.
And maybe that will encourage you this week, Dear Reader. Life is fragile and scary. But go live it, man! Go live it!
Until next Wednesday, Lord willing. Thank you to those who have signed up to follow the blog and for any recommendations you might make to family and friends.