It wasn't long after Thomas' departure that I started facing important events without him. Just weeks later we were at church to have Elijah dedicated to the Lord.
But unlike Ariana's dedication, the children's Godparents stood with me during the ceremony. That was the first of many. Between the two children we've done eleven birthdays, seven "first day of school", two graduations, several recitals and performances, Ariana has entered middle school and Elijah will enter Kindergarten this fall. But somehow we made it to where we are today. It's been a ride. Finding ways to use their gifts and energy has kept me on my toes, used a lot of time and highway miles. It's all been worth it.
Elijah started preschool. And while he loved to learn, he wasn't real traditional either. He wasn't much on his school work during the day; but the technology based learning he got into when he pirated my tablet was another matter. Then the transition from the first year of preschool to the 2nd tested my faith. He didn't understand moving to another class. At one point he even stopped talking.
His teachers had to meet him halfway in a lot of ways, engaging him talking about outer space, science, trains and football. Those are things he continues to be obsessed with even now. He could name all of the planets at age 3; but the eight basic colors not so much. Knows it all now though and more. Still not much on worksheets though. But we made it. Kindergarten, here we come.
During all of that though, both roads were rough. The path to finding out Ariana was Dyslexic was one of the most challenging times of my life. The time before we found out, was like I was treading water while she slowly drowned three feet away. It was close to three years during which I dropped an insane amount of money I couldn't afford on the wrong kind of help. It was close to three years I spent being told I wasn't doing enough to help her. It was close to three years of homework time ending with tears or just giving up and going to bed. It was close to three years of her hearing she just needed to try harder, occasionally from me.
The first clues probably showed up in Kindergarten. The struggle intensified though in first grade. In 2nd grade her teacher experimented by asking her the same test questions in a different order immediately after she graded a test. Written test grade was an F. But she answered all but one questions correctly when asked in conversation. She knew the material. I was more confused than ever. We sometimes took trips to escape the everyday grind. She was finally diagnosed in third grade. For 4th grade I hired a Reading Specialist and a homework helper. She had classrooms accommodations and adjusted tests and homework, the implementation of which her teacher was brilliant. She flourished. She even won the Science Fair.
The following year was a whole different challenge. I dove deeper into the world of Special Education Law, various reading programs and therapies. I ended up with a 2nd homework helper by the end. I had to hand it to my daughter. She pushed through at times when I wanted give in. She worked on homework from the last bite of dinner until way past my bedtime without complaint. Knowing about the Dyslexia gave us both more patience. I can admit, a lot of the time she displayed more of it than I did. My soldier finished. The last year of Elementary school challenged us to the point though that a transition from private school became necessary.
At the start of middle school we found ourselves in a new place with some familiar features. The new school still had documented expectations of character, uniforms, small classes, carpool and it was all in one building. This might have been the toughest first day of school for me. I think it was tougher than leaving her for Kindergarten.
God's had His work cut out for him the last five years. But even when I felt alone, in my mind, I knew He was still there. It's just who He is whether we deserve it or not. With every challenge, I still see His faithfulness to us. In my times of anger, and moments of unbelief, He'd show me that one little thing so I'd feel His love. When I look back on all of these moments and some others, there's always a twinge in my heart; but I'm grateful He's kept me in a place where I can experience joy in the small and large things. This tragedy nor the circumstances we faced afterwards had the power to steal that from me. As we go on, I'll do my best to hang on to that because while I know we have more challenges ahead, I also know God doesn't change. He's got nothing left to prove, never has; but He's been strong for me. And I need Him.