18 June 2009

The Gift of a Smile, Literally


A remembrance ~

Here I am. Pregnant and waddling down the long, turning hallway towards the "special wing" of the building where the special needs children, and my son, spend their weekday mornings. As always, I pray within the privacy of my heart for the Lord to use these people and this place to touch my son. How I long to hear him speak. How I long to hear anything about his thoughts and feelings, to know something of his inner world which remains a mystery... even a discernible word of rebellion would be music to my ears. Alas, at age three, all there is to hear is the gurgling and jargon of an infant.

I am so very grateful for the special education preschool in the public school system. It is help. It is relief. It is something I can see and touch. I keep clinging to the promises and faithfulness of God as I walk towards my son's classroom, the room with the most needy children in the program. I picture in my mind the children with Down Syndrome, physical and mental handicaps, and other challenges, praying for each one as their face appears in my thoughts. I pray for myself, too. That I would not give over to fear for the little one growing inside of me. No matter what, I remind myself, God is good. He is all we need. Whatever lies before me and my children, we can and will rejoice, seeing His goodness, even amidst great pain and suffering, lost hopes and dreams. There is nothing beyond His reach... He gives beauty for ashes.

My reverie is interrupted by quick steps I hear clicking on the linoleum floor. My gaze focuses ahead and I see Mrs. Seaton almost running down the hall towards me as I come around yet another corner in the long hallway. So many turns in my path, where it's hard to see ahead, but pressing onward, I walk, one step at a time. She is almost out of breath, not from walking fast, but from excitement. Immediately I think of Morgan, her precious daughter with Down Syndrome, who is in my son's class. Could there be good news about her? I would rejoice greatly for her, just as if it were news of my own.

Her eyes bright and dancing, she can hardly wait to tell me. Grabbing my arm she blurts out, "It's Keaghan! It was him. I know it's his!"

What? What is she saying about my son?

She caught her breath and slowing down a bit, explained. "Today! Today, Morgan, she..." Tears begin to well up in her eyes, tears of joy. "She smiled at me! She smiled! Oh, I can't believe it! It is so wonderful..."

Overcome, she hugs me, then she pauses, looking intently into my eyes, while I stand there waiting for the rest of the story.

"And it's Keaghan's smile!"

I stood there stunned. At once, I knew her meaning, yet I could not take it in. Did she mean...?

She continued. "Yes, I am sure it is. We all know how Keaghan has that unique, glowing smile that just lights up his whole face. Well, he gave it to Morgan! She has his smile. Thank you so very much..." Again, we embrace. And linger there, sharing joy and wonder.

This was the first time in Morgan's life that she had smiled at her mother. At anyone.

As we part, tears fall. From the eyes of two mothers who have been through much. And who have just received a gift far more precious than they could have ever imagined. Perhaps a gift that only those who have walked in their shoes can receive.

Yes, everyone always commented about Keaghan's smile. Despite his many problems, that smile usually won people over. It was beautiful. It was sweet, real and disarming all at once. It's hard to describe. In fact, the speech and language pathologist who had evaluated him said that she was surprised that Keaghan was still trying to communicate at all, given that he couldn't talk. Most children would have clammed up and totally given up before then, withdrawing into a world of their own, safe and silent. But he kept going, something within him carrying him along, perhaps that same something that gave him that infectious smile, she wondered.

Yes, that Something. Or better yet, that Someone. Held, carried along, by Jesus.

And the same Jesus fashioned that smile upon his face as He knit him together in all of his special ways within my womb. He knew Keaghan needed it. He knew two mothers needed it. He knew the world needed it.

And He knew that Morgan Seaton needed it.


That was seven years ago. And God has been faithful beyond measure to Keaghan and our family. Keaghan is now doing well in a classical, Christian private school, so well, that his special ed team has just recommended that he no longer continue to receive services from them after school, but they will continue to be available on a consult basis. (Rejoice in the Lord with us!) The Lord has also given us a wonderful opportunity for Keaghan to receive medical neurological therapy through a bartering arrangement. This saves us thousands of dollars since insurance won't cover it. It is a mutual blessing arrangement. (Once again, God is good!) We hope that this will help Keaghan with some issues that remain a trouble for him.

Whenever Keaghan is discouraged and doubts himself, and I can see him spiraling down into that mind-trap ever deeper, I sit with him and I remember with him. I remind him that somewhere out in the big world, there is one girl who can now share with the world her joy. Because he gave her a gift that no one else could give.

His smile.

And that's about as special as it gets.

For another post about my son, called Fly, Little One, Fly, click here.

For posts about special needs/handicaps, click here.

{The names of the children have been changed to protect their identity. But if you want to pray for them, please go ahead, for God knows their names!}


tonia said...

this is such a beautiful story...such an image of the way God loves us, how He turns ashes to beauty and restores beyond our imaginings.

thank you for writing it and sharing it.

Cindi said...

Thank you so much for this encouraging post. My son also had special needs and was "non-verbal".
However, he communicated his love to us with the light in his eyes and also with the gift of his infectious smile. It was a gift to everyone he met for 17 years. He passed away 2months ago today and you helped to remind me as I struggle with so many "Why Lord?" questions that his life was not in vain and that he changed many lives with his smile.
Even today, he still gives his gift to me because I can see his smile in my mind and it lifts the sadness from me for a little while.
Many blessings to you and your family and thank you for your blog.

Sharaya Crossan said...


Thank you for your kind words. And for praying for our family. Let us continue in our special journeys with our eyes fixed on Jesus and our hearts full of His joy.

~ Sharaya

Sharaya Crossan said...


It is hard to express what your note means to me. I am so touched that you have shared about your life, of a tender part of your life. To know that my little words have ministered to you on such a day. I am humbled and hushed to think of all you have experienced and the journey of grief and healing that you have so recently begun.

May your remembrances of your precious son always bring his smile to your own face and warm your heart. Heaven will be filled with the stories of how our loving Lord touched lives through his life, and through yours as you continue on in this world. May the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit be your comfort and your peace. And know that each tear is held in Jesus' nail-scarred hand, more precious than any jewel, and that He grieves with you and rejoices with you in your fond memories.

All is grace,