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Waking Up the Doctor’s Waiting Room (And Everyone She Meets)

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Jeannie Ewing - published on 05/28/16

Gratitude for a special-needs child whose gregariousness sparks conversation and makes wonder bloom

Having a 3-year-old as a sidekick, no matter who she is, spells adventure, but my daughter Sarah is guaranteed to bring a spark, even if the place is as drab as one of our most frequented hang-outs: a doctor’s waiting room.

With Sarah, a conversation with strangers naturally unfolds within a few minutes. She isn’t shy at all, so her big smile is sure to melt hearts as she wanders up to random people, cheerfully starting off with an innocent “Hi!” Adults are touched by Sarah, and they often begin talking to me as a result.

Elderly folks tend to open with things like, “Well, I have a granddaughter with special needs” or “I think children who are different are special gifts from God.”

They want to talk, I think to myself, sometimes with a groan, because I don’t really want to. It would be nice to have a normal life for five minutes and browse the home and garden magazine as she plays. Instead, I’m reminded that Sarah is different — and gregarious — and our life isn’t like everyone else’s, and so talking must happen.

Because the questions are always the same, the conversation can get exhausting. I begin with a minimalist, “Yes, Sarah is such a blessing,” and then try to return to the magazine. If they continue, we will eventually get into a full-blown discourse about Apert Syndrome, what surgeries Sarah has had and which ones are upcoming, etc. Usually there is a point where I hand them a card directing them to my blog, where they can learn more.

In the end, despite the inner groans, I recognize that these conversations — even if they sometimes feel sacrificial to me — are beautiful. If it weren’t for Sarah, they wouldn’t occur at all. Our conversation would never transcend the superficial weather-or-sports-and-have-a-good-day waiting room chat.

Sarah has a way of making wonder bloom. In otherwise mundane and ordinary circumstances, she brings to mind that haunting passage in Scripture that says, “Do not become drowsy from daily life” and “Stay awake!” Sarah is awake; she awakens others, bringing what matters into sharp focus; she draws us out of our typical state of doing, calling us to the state of being.

Sarah’s smile helps people focus on the simplicity of joy, the gift of happiness, and the fact that small acts of kindness really do make a huge impact.

Her little life of three years has significantly opened not just my eyes, but my heart, as well. When I see how others respond to her (most of the time), I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the gift she is to our family and to all people. Sarah was born in a critical era, and her life reaffirms the greater purpose and plan God has in store for each of us.

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