She meticulously made her entrance into this world on a brisk March day 23 years ago and quickly made a sensation in the delivery room at Duke University Medical Center by topping out the scale at 10 pounds, 15 ounces. And to think that when I heard the nurse say “10-15”, I thought that was the time our daughter was born! Actual time was 10:19 p.m.
Curiosity became her mantra early on and at only 3 days old, she leaned so far forward in her baby swing that this mother caught a glimpse of what might be on the mind of this little girl—exploration! The monthly wall calendar had only been flipped 15 times when Larry and I walked through the door carrying a baby girl who was cramped in a 0-3 month sleeper. Poor planning on my part for not properly packing my hospital suitcase!
Now I look back on the day we brought her home from the hospital and realize that she had no idea where she was heading—of the home that she would be raised in—of the sibling that she would affectionately call “E.B.” during toddlerhood. Being the parent of a special needs child has its challenges and was obviously new territory for my husband and me. But being the sibling of a child with special needs—I did not know how that felt at all. The baby girl began to crawl and develop at a precocious rate and, yes, passed all milestones that her brother 15 months older had not even begun to achieve.
Sarah was 6 months old when she gave us one of many memorable moments that set the course for her future as Adam’s sister. Larry and I were in the kitchen and both children were freely crawling around the house when we heard laughter from the family room—not just Sarah laughing, but Adam as well. We peeped into the room to find Sarah literally inches from Adam’s face and they were enjoying a laughing match. Until that day, we had never heard Adam laugh, but Sarah gently and courageously entered his world dictated by the mystical, malfunctioning neurotransmitters of autism and an unbreakable bond was forged.
The monthly wall calendar has been turned many, many times since that brisk March day with a baby in a sleeper far too little for her. As I sit here in my favorite recliner in the family room that’s had a facelift, I ponder the courage that it took for the infant to crawl into Adam’s world, for the little girl to invite her friends for a sleepover, for the teenage girl to have a group of teenagers hang out at her house and for the young woman to watch her husband deploy three times in five years and I realize that she’s equipped for this audacious adventure–for she is rooted with a quiet courage that will go with her all the days of her life.