The Gift of A Second Chance
Posted October 18, 2011 by SpecialEd Smart.wordpress.com
It’s the worst nightmare, an emergency phone call from the Sheriff telling you that your child has been in a car accident. Witnesses say she was airborne in-between the violent rolls that landed her in a heap of twisted metal and broken glass. Margie was by herself on a rural road near Fort Smith, Arkansas. The amazing part of the story is not the physical circumstances of how or why it happened. Rather, it is the resilient young woman in the driver’s seat and her very special mother and a remarkable car.
All of my students have touched my life in ways that have expanded my heart and deepened my love for teaching. I consider myself lucky to be able to live everyday with hope for the future because of my students and their families.
This is a story about life offering a second chance to an exceptional young woman. Margie began her school career in my kindergarten class. I remember watching her skip down the long gray hall and into my classroom. She held tightly to her mother’s hand and greeted me with a big smile on her sweet face! My instincts told me that her smile spoke volumes about her character. I had the feeling she would be one of many students who would leave an imprint on my heart.
Margie’s Mom had set up a conference to meet and I remember our conversation. Colleen told me how Margie was a miracle baby. She was born prematurely and spent endless days in her NICU incubator. She was sustained by the numerous tubes that connected to her tiny body and our conversation turned to a more serious note when Colleen said that the doctors told her that Margie would never live a healthy life. I could see the pain in her eyes. As a parent of a special needs daughter, I deeply understood her concerns, fears and anxiety.
The Road Ahead
I knew that kindergarten would hold many challenges for Margie and that she deserved every opportunity to succeed. Luck brought her to me and love kept her moving forward. I wanted to put Colleen’s fears to rest and together we worked to guide Margie’s success every step of the way.
In describing Margie’s character, Colleen shared that she was a fighter, pure and simple. I just knew that Margie got her spirit from her mother! It must have been a challenge in the morning as Margie was developing her sense of self while Colleen struggled to get her out the door! Somehow, it was the right measure of independence that fueled her incredible desire to learn.
With the love and support of her family, Margie grew to be a confident kindergartener. In class she quietly, stubbornly and deliberately became a strong student. She proved to all of us that she could make it in school despite all possible developmental delays that could slow her down. In fact, I think Margie had perfect attendance that year!
The Blue Mustang
Last Sunday, Margie faced life and death for the second time. This time she fought from the driver’s seat and not the incubator. For some unknown reason she walked away and into the arms of the good Samaritans who stopped to help her. Maybe it was the laws of physics that saved her or could it have been her size or weight? It might have been the magnitude of her emotional strength that held her tightly as her car flew aimlessly in the air. Once again in her life, she survived terrible odds. I can tell you that at the exact moment when the car was suspended in the air, Margie prayed that she would hug her Mom, just one more time. It is the same prayer of hope that her Mom spoke to her when Margie fought for her life in the NICU.
A Teacher’s Perspective
It’s my guess that it may have been the little things, like her size or stubborn disposition, that Colleen and I worried about that year that might have helped to save her life. As a parent of a special needs child, I have learned that the things I am sometimes most afraid of become the blessings that guide and carry my daughter though life’s greatest challenges. Margie proved that miracles exist and I can not wait to see the smile on her face when she figures out how she will use her second chance. I feel a deep appreciation and gratitude to those who never walked away with their second chance, for they have taught us the greatest lesson in life is that we treasure each other. As for Margie, her second chance will someday be our treasure.