A Parent’s Reflections: Lessons from Katherine

Glenda & KatherineWhen my husband, Tom, and I were handed the most beautiful baby girl in the world, we felt like we’d been given a miracle.  After months and years of struggling with infertility and then attempting to prove ourselves as adoption-worthy candidates, that moment was the mountain-top, the apex, the gift of everything we’d hoped for: Katherine!

Katherine as a baby

The first part of our life with Katherine was beyond idyllic.  She was beautiful, she was happy; she received our comfort and filled our hearts with joy.  That is, until we learned that she would be disabled by cerebral palsy.   We responded with disbelief and with anger.  Surely, the doctor could not be right in his diagnosis.   Only gradually did we come to accept it, and then only because the reality became painfully true.  She could sit, but she could not crawl.  She was nowhere near standing or walking.  And then, she developed seizures.

Katherine as a young girl

I wrote Lessons from Katherine to chronicle our journey with her, the curious mix of deep sorrow at her (and our) losses, and the true joy in her feisty presence.  Cerebral palsy could break our hearts; it could not defeat the love and connection we felt for our child.  What I had not fully realized as I wrote the book was that its publication brought an unexpected blessing: new connections.

Lessons from Katherine book

Over the months since Lessons from Katherine appeared in print, I’ve heard from many people:  old friends, my seventh grade teacher, former colleagues, parents of other children with disabilities and the people who showed up at book signings. Members of my congregation, some I’d known for years, pulled me aside to tell me about a son with schizophrenia, or a sibling with a developmental disability.  When a mother I’d not met before emailed, “I felt less isolated as I read your book,” I sighed, grateful that our story could span across the miles to an unknown mom and encourage her in her journey.

As I write this blog for CLC Network, I am aware of the possible new connections:  connections among people who understand that even the deep, deep losses of physical ability, of intellectual capacity, of former dreams, and of social isolation are not enough to separate us or our children from the love of God in Jesus Christ.

The Rev. Dr. Glenda W Prins, is a retired United Church of Christ Pastor, educated at Calvin College and Colgate-Rochester Divinity School/Bexley Hall/Crozer.  She has pastored congregations in the Rochester, NY area and was the first Director of Spiritual Life at Heritage Christian Home, Inc.  Lessons from Katherine is her first published book.  She lives in Rochester with her husband, Tom.  Their grown son, Mark Edward, lives in Chicago. Katherine passed away in 2010.

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