This week’s guest post is by Maria Sauvageau, parent of a pretty special person
Fear of the unknown and trust in God: these two polar opposites became the central theme in my life as a mother. Ashley was born the younger sister to five-year-old Andrew on July 26, 1989. Two weeks before her second birthday, she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor which was one third the size of her brain mass.
This was the first time true fear of the unknown crept silently into my life. Before she was rushed into emergency surgery, our pastor arrived to administer her outstanding sacraments and most importantly, the sacrament of the sick. I was told to say goodbye as she was not expected to survive.
Trust in God…this became my only hope. Not just trusting in Him to save my daughter, but finding the strength to trust in Him that whatever His will, I would be strong enough to handle it.
I believe that my children are gifts from God but that ultimately, they belong to Him. Trust in God; not easy, but forcefully necessary. If God decided to bring Ashley back to Him, who was I to interfere?
I experienced this fear of the unknown and trust in God many more times.
At age four, Ashley slipped off a three foot retaining wall and tore the cerebrum at the brain stem. This resulted in a hemorrhage which was carefully watched for days. A re-bleed would have caused immediate death. Fear of the unknown and trust in God: I had been to this place before. I was more prepared this time, but it did not make it any easier.
Another tragedy…at age five, Ashley contracted spinal meningitis. The doctors implanted an infusaport for the administration of three different antibiotics. This port was tube-tied to a travel pump that she carried for six weeks. Ashley was in kindergarten.
Fear of the unknown and trust in God. Yes, I had been there before, but at this point I pleaded. In prayer I called to Him and pleaded, “God, if you want this child to return to you, then take her because this is becoming too painful to bear on a regular basis.”
Ashley recovered from meningitis and has since experienced one more near death experience. I learned she is one heck of a fighter and is here for a reason. Those reasons are too numerous to list. The lessons and love our family learned by having her has defined who we have all become.
Because of the tumor and the cranial radiation, possibly the chemo, Ashley is cognitively disabled. She reads and writes at a first grade level. Make no mistake, she is extremely resourceful and has no problem searching out the solution to get what she needs or wants. She attended a parochial school, OPS District 66 and Phoenix Academy, all tried to teach her to read. But it wasn’t until she turned 17 that we tried the Madonna School for special needs students. Immediately she said, “Mom, these kids are just like me!”
Finally, we discovered a fit for her and one that had a caring and experienced staff, lockers, a gymnasium, dances, and a community. At Madonna, Ashley learned the value of employment and the pride which it can bring. She told most everyone she met that she worked at Bergan Mercy Hospital and that it is her hospital. She learned life skills through many outings and if you want to see pride defined, watch her moment when she received the gold medal in swimming at the Special Olympics.
Currently, Ashley works at Anthony’s Restaurant. She busses tables, and will be on the clock working the Madonnapalooza party. She is extremely excited to show her Madonna family and friends that she is successful!
Although Ashley continues to battle health problems, my fear of the future has diminished, thanks greatly to Madonna School, and my trust in God has grown.
© Maria Sauvageau
|Ashley at work|
|Ashley the medalist!|