In most of our lives, there are special people who leave an everlasting and profound impression. They take our breaths away and leave a smile on our hearts at the mere thought of them. My “lasting impression friend” is a precious thirteen year old girl named Mary. She is one of the luckiest, happiest and most fulfilled girls I have ever known. Her inner self is so strongly established and she far surpasses many humans in her capacity for innate contentment.
Her mother, Juana, is one of my favorite Meredith College friends. In Terry, she made an exceptional choice of a husband. Mary had a quality foundation in them. She was their fourth child. I can remember hearing the news that she had no eyes. My first emotion had been sorrow. However, after having been fortunate enough to get to know her, sorrow is not remotely close to the emotion I feel now. Mary is the most “un-handicapped” person I know. She is also fortunate to be surrounded by solicitous siblings who are lovingly dedicated to her.
Juana wrote the most eloquent letter after Mary’s birth that she sent to all her friends that touched me to the core. Here is an excerpt:
“I want to write you some thoughts to let you know how God has so faithfully led us through since the day of the birth of our fourth child, Mary Elizabeth. Like all parents, the first thing we so wanted to hear after the birth of our baby is that everything was okay. We were to soon hear that the doctors did not think she had any eyes behind her eyelids. The words cut like a knife as my husband tearfully leaned down to tell me what they had suspected. Overwhelmed, we clung to one another as we wept and grieved, as we tried to absorb all that was taking place. Looking back, I am now reminded of the verse “…weeping remains for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” For we did weep and we did grieve, but we did not stay there. With the same intensity with which we had clung physically to one another, we were to transfer that clinging to now take hold of God’s promises. In my mind, I remembered the words of Romans 8:28, “God works all things together for good to them that love God and are called according to God’s purpose.” He didn’t say all things were good, but that He would work them out for our ultimate good. Did I really believe that? Would I trust Him? It was as if God were saying, “Don’t look at just what you see, look to Me and trust in Me.” I think I can say that as I lay in that hospital bed taking in all that was happening that I did trust Him. It was a sheer act of my will, not my feelings. I remember as I held Mary in those early hours, being so glad she was in our family. She was, I knew, exactly where she was supposed to be.”
They received the excellent news that Mary’s MRI and Chromosome Report indicated normal brain development.
I had the pleasure of being invited to the beach with Juana’s family a few summers ago.I became privy to Mary’s incredible world. Her other senses are so finely tuned. She initially feels the back of your arm, giving her mind the image of the person–and then the all-important drinking in of every single solitary word begins. She devours every word and can repeat them verbatim in a dramatically entertaining way. She is always smiling. I’ve never been around such intense happiness. She is always interested in making new friends and no one is a stranger. We watched her as she introduced herself to children and adults'”just her natural desire to know people and the intricacies of their lives. She tape records their conversations and replays them to hold onto the sounds for posterity.
Juana home-schooled Mary for many years. She began public school and even rides the bus. Why not? She’s more adjusted and capable than most. She recently won the Spotlight on Student award.
I was obviously completely misguided in my first emotion of sorrow. Mary is never to be pitied'”she is, instead, to be envied with her perfect understanding of humanity, her ability to enjoy the beauty of each and every person and her all-encompassing joy of living. The life lesson learned from Mary is that it is glaringly obvious that in this world of superficialities and materialistic desires, all that truly matters is what lies in our hearts and how we treat others.
What a beautiful gift Mary is to our world.