After months of knowing something isn't quite right with your son, the doctor tells you that he has a disease, called A-T, that has worst symptoms of muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, immune deficiencies, and cancer. Children with this disease are usually confined to wheelchairs by age 10 and often do not survive their teens.
Your world COULD crumble. It probably SHOULD crumble. You're the parents. Why can't you fix this, like a Band-Aid on a boo boo, a soft blankie, and a gentle kiss on the forehead? But then, you look into your toddler's sincere, crystal blue eyes, and you know that somehow you have to carry on. So you live your life knowing that right now, these are the best days, and you embrace every day. Every moment. And you hold that in balance with the pain of knowing what, without a miracle, may lie ahead.
Meet Brian (and blankie).
Brian is 4. He has a baby brother named Andrew, and an obsession with Band-Aids.
Brian and Andrew don't seem to spend much time thinking about A-T, and after a few minutes of giggles and silliness with these boys, neither do their mom or photographer.
Driven by my love of animals and children, the next day, I invite myself to join in on Brian's hippotherapy session at Children of Promise Stable, in Nanuet, NY, where two rascals come together to leave their boo-boos and worries behind, and enjoy a little time with one another.
When you arrive at a place that feels right for your soul,
you just know.
COPS Barn is one of those places.
(Did Brian feel this way when he first arrived here?)
Surrounded by all of his helper angels, one rascal mounts the other.
All eyes are on Brian as he takes Rascal's reins.
So there's this thing about Brian, where once you connect,
he makes you feel like he's known you all his life.
Do you see the way he LOOKS at me?
And we only met the day before.
"Walk On," Brian is encouraged to say,
to let Rascal know it's time to move forward.
(It's a funny thing, how moving forward keeps
popping up in these blogs, isn't it?)
So, as if by magic, Brian exclaims "Walk On!" and we, a bunch of grown women who have so much to learn from such a tiny being, enjoy the wonder of walking on with Brian and Rascal. (We also enjoy a bit of unexpected giggly ribbing Brian.)
Mom watches on as we walk on.
Brian, ready for more, commands, "Trot on!"
Brian dismounts, but he's not done chatting.
Back to mom!
Back inside the stable, Brian gets a new Band-Aid to add to his collection. Band-Aids used to scare Brian. He associated them with pokes and probes and treatments, so his parents helped him see Band-Aids from a new perspective, and now he is comforted by them.
As I hand my camera off to be IN the group photo, Brian invites me back to his house for a playdate. It's just the kind of guy he is. How nice it would be to go home, and experience a few more of Brian's beautiful glances and smiles and belly laughs today!
Thank you, Rascal and angels. Thank you, Brian and mom. Sometimes, when life gets a little rocky, always know you can always find your blankie, make friends with your Band-Aids, and
NO MATTER WHAT...