How We See Her

My dad's oldest brother, Jack, died on January 29th after a three month battle with cancer. I, along with two of my first cousins, had the privilege of driving my grandfather from the memorial service to the graveside because his knees kept him from being able to climb into the car in which my grandmother and their other three sons were riding.

There is one thing Poppy said during that car ride that I will never forget. He said that it felt just like yesterday when he was tucking his four boys into bed and kissing them all on the head.

I realize that I am 33 (gasp!) and not 89, but I understand how he feels. I cannot believe how quickly life is moving along, particularly that Virginia is already 8 years old.


Findley and I were talking in the car on the way to Memphis for Easter about how we see Virginia differently than most other people see her.

People are always saying things to me like, "Oh, but she's so happy" or "I am so glad you are her parents."

Well, yes, she is usually pretty happy, and I am certainly grateful for that, but my other two children are happy also. And I am glad we are her parents, too, but we would have been her parents even if she had been spared such a devastating brain injury.

Please don't think I am offended by either of those comments, but Findley and I realized that they illustrate the gap between how we see Virginia and how everyone else sees her.

I think it is very easy to see our family walking down the street, with Wills and Eliza making Virginia laugh by hanging off either side of her wheelchair, and smile. Yes, sometimes it brings tears to my eyes that she is here and clearly very well loved by those of us around her. (And she loves us well, too, by the way.) But there are other times when Findley and I look at her and see what was taken.

See, we knew her before she was injured. Or, maybe I should say that we dreamed of her before she was injured. Most of you have never known her any other way, but we have, and sometimes it is hard to look at her and not acknowledge great loss.

We have 2nd Grade Girls' Bible Club at our house on Friday afternoons. I do nothing except open my front door. Other mothers do all the teaching. It's a pretty good deal, actually. Sometimes Virginia makes it through the entire lesson, most times she doesn't. It is hard to watch her peers sing praise songs, ask questions, make prayer requests, and recite their memory verses. It is hard to watch them run around my front yard afterward, and break off into little groups for Friday night slumber parties. I would be lying if I said I no longer mourned what was taken from Virginia.

Sometimes Findley and I look at Virginia and see the healthy little girl that should have been. The thriving second grader without a care in the world. We wonder if her voice would have sounded like Eliza's or if she would have been artistic like Wills. We wonder if she would have been calm like her daddy or high-strung like me. What would she tell us everyday when she bounded in the front door from school?

I am aware that we have to be careful. We can't let remembering what was lost keep us from embracing what is here. There are a million things that we love about Virginia, and in some ways, she and I are closer than we otherwise would have been. I am her arms, her legs, and her voice, and she is my heart. But how I wish that she had been spared all this suffering and not robbed of her autonomy!


I know that as a mother I hang onto some of the best moments and hope I can still remember them when I am in the nursing home. Our minds have a way of clinging to the beauty of life, the glimpses of eternity, so to speak.

That's why Poppy remembers the 66 year old man he lovingly called #1 son* as a blond little boy waiting up for a story at bedtime. It is life in its simplest form, our children in their purest moments.

Findley and I will always remember the Virginia that we had dreamed of, a Virginia without limitations, a Virginia untouched by the suffering of this world.

Thankfully there is Someone else who sees her this way, too, and it gives us great peace to know that one day His glorious vision for her, and for all of us, will come to fruition.

*I am #1 grandchild, just in case there was ever any doubt!:)

(I apologize for the two grainy photos. Yes, I took a picture from a movie using my iPhone. We didn't have a digital camera when Virginia was born, and I have yet to scan most of them onto my computer. And even if I wanted to do it tonight, I couldn't because all my photo albums are stored in the basement so that my house looks spacious and lovely and someone will want to buy it. Anyone else notice that Findley had a lot of hair when Virginia was born and that I was wearing an athletic watch- I guess I must have exercised back then???)