It’s been a smidge over a year since I met Veronica. I was standing in line at PetSmart, getting dog food, and something caught my eye, tugged at my heart, or actually, it was both. Interestingly though, it was nothing about her appearance that drew me to her. Her heart was worn on her sleeve, noticeable even in the simplest task. I love how our spirit can be drawn to someone else’s. Somehow, we began chatting about our children and families. She shared with me that one of her sons had special needs. She stood with a high head, although visibly tired, and spoke about how she was told he didn’t have a chance at life just after his birth.
This was a heavy and fast conversation to have in a store line, but I wanted to hear more. I felt like she really had a lot to say, but more so, I felt she was going to teach me something and I didn’t want to miss that.
Sometimes I ask random strangers if they’d like to meet me for coffee. To share. To learn. I told Veronica I wanted to write about her for my first blog post. I think most people would be put off by such a request, but she was more than willing to share.
I often wonder if my desire and gratitude for connection is odd, and if it is, then I gladly accept the creeper award!
My thought process for the java invitation was that I wanted to see more of her aura. She was such a light. In just those few moments in line, she seemed such an example of strength and spirit, that I just wanted to share her with the world.
Our coffee date turned into a great friendship. I’m so thankful that she understood that I just wanted to write about everyday people, living through everyday stuff, in order to encourage many. That we can use our shortfalls, circumstances or mishaps and turn them into triumphs even in our everyday lives.
In 2009, then a single mother, delivering Jack at 25, had labored before. If I recall correctly, the process was fairly routine until the baby’s heart rate seemed troubled and then fell silent. Veronica kept buzzing the nurse. She was prepped and hurried into the OR for an emergency C-section and Jack Lucky was born.
God chooses certain people to care for children. Jack Lucky was just that, lucky. God chose Veronica for him. All the experts and staff told her there was no brain activity. They unhooked him from all of the machines, yet Jack continued to breathe on his own. “He won’t make it”, she was told, “Don’t feed him”, they said. Unbelievable.
The strength it takes to be a mother of a “normal” newborn is taxing enough, but to be alone, with a child you’re told is brain dead, is unimaginable. Veronica told me that it wasn’t her strength that she was relying on. It was just waiting and being still. In the seven days she waited, still feeding and caring for Jack until she heard his first cries, it was faith.
Her upbringing had it’s share of hard knocks, and had taught her well to power through tough situations, whether it was thoughtfully navigated or flying by the seat of her pants, hanging on for dear life, with white knuckles. I believe that spirit, that drive, that fight, was what I saw in line that afternoon, but it was an exuding of understanding, perseverance, and love. Even now, over six years later, she draws on that same place of strength to carry her through her long days of getting Jack to school and physical therapy. Her spirit musters joy each day as she works long hours and is now in search of a handicap accessible vehicle.
The day to day occurrences that we may experience that appear annoying, tough, or melancholy get a whole new perspective when realizing that those dealings don’t last 24 hours a day. So when I find myself actively complaining about getting dealt an unfair hand, I need to reflect on what I learned that day and the day we met for coffee. Remember how I feel a joy filled heart spending time with Veronica and Jack, and the spirit I see in that sweet boy’s face every time he smiles, or blows a kiss.
Did I mention that? Jack smiles, and looks at you, and responds. He may respond without words, but he understands. He also laughs and shows delight for his life and that is all due to his beautiful mother. Her spirit magnetized by his in the very moment they met, and the strength she gave him to thrive.