“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” Ronald Dahl

She was about 2 when I met her…just a toddler. Only, she didn’t toddle.   An everlasting infant of sorts.  I was barely twenty when I began caring for Miss Hannah.  Still learning about the care of small children, taking on a child with special needs pushed my very own underdeveloped comfort zone.  I was scared for sure…scared I’d do something wrong, scared I’d not know what to do, scared I’d break her.  She also came with a tiny baby sister.

Along with their mommy and daddy, these two girls {and eventually a third}, these pixies, these exquisite little fairies taught me to soak up the sun while it is shining.

Hannah was born a normal, healthy baby…thriving.  Being only six months old when she got sick, many of the typical baby milestones hadn’t yet occurred.  To make a long story short, many years ago Hannah stopped breathing for unknown reasons while taking a nap one day.  They weren’t sure just how long she went without oxygen so the damage to her brain was unknown. As months, then years went by, Hannah seemed to still be the six months she was when this happened.  Along with the brain damage, atrophy and cerebral palsy set in.

During the time I had the privilege to be involved in Hannah’s life, her family’s life, I watched in amazement their perseverance to keep life simple and to always plow ahead, living in the moment rather than getting lost in the past or the uncertainness of the future.  I saw them accept their circumstances and always go on.  Life was normal…their normal.  From someone on the outside I admired this so much.

I spent many a day with Miss Hannah…keeping her fed, clean, and comfortable.  Since she couldn’t speak I needed to learn to read her….and that I did.

She had her varying cries…one for hunger, or pain, or sadness. She giggled and cooed. She was like every baby I ever took care of, only bigger.

Something set her apart though. Her colossal smile. It was absolutely enchanting.  Never have I met anyone with such a wonderful, honest, humongous grin as Hannah.  She loved the outdoors, the sunshine. The warmer the better.  She’d turn her face into the glare of the hot sun and soak it in.  The details, she loved the details…birds chirping, wind chimes clanging in the wind.  Her head would whip back and forth as the sounds of the neighborhood sang to her.   She had one of those whole mouth open types of smiles…beaming like the sunshine.

And music, the louder the better.  Some days we would rock out and wheelchair dance around the room and other days she was simply happy to listen to the cassette tapes I found at a garage sale for a buck: Birdsongs and Wind Chimes.

She also had a sick sense of humor. Once while I was feeding her, a favorite, avocado mash, she sneezed all over the kitchen wall.  As I was bending over cleaning it up she sneezed again…spraying the back of my head with fresh avocado! I let out a screech and turned to see her smirking ear to ear laughing at what she had done. I always think of her now when I eat an avocado.


Wind chimes.

Live in the moments…

Though I didn’t know them yet, I often thought about her parents the day Hannah got sick.  What hell they must have gone through. I cannot even begin to process it.  I see it as a day that the expectation of what they thought they had died.  What they hoped for and anticipated, as all parents do, was lost. I believe they grieved and mourned for a spell, and then they evolved little by little in to the strongest family I’ve yet to know.   I don’t know if I personally could be as graceful as they always seemed to be to me.

Hannah left this world a little over a week ago. She was 23.  The family has been heavy on my heart.  Her second passing away of sorts…Though it has been a handful of years since I had last seen her, I can still remember her head turning and smiling at me when I walked into the room even after being gone for a while.  I can still feel and smell her silky strawberry blonde hair as I’d bend down to kiss her head and the softness of her fingers curled around mine.  I can picture her now, at last, running, jumping, even kart wheeling and, of course, dancing barefoot in a meadow of dewy grass and white flowers, sunshine glowing all around her.



3 responses »

  1. Janeeeeelle, you made me cry…again! Though I’m smiling, too, because your story of Hannah was beautiful.

  2. Thank you, I appreciate the perspectives. Love the Waytes for who they are, not what. Hannah was a big contributor in more ways than we’ll ever know.

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