This week marks an anniversary of the death of an incredible friend.
Throughout high school and half of my undergrad, i worked in a nursing home. I loved it ... but about 4 years ago, on a whim, i applied for an internship/part time job as a special needs worker. At the time, i had about zero experience working with children besides the random babysitting gig. To my delight, i got the job (by paralleling working with the elderly to working with children!)
I was paired up with a beautifully spirited young girl ... She was 13, brown hair, incredible smile and a laugh that actually competed with mine! She also had down syndrome. I spent almost 2 years with her ... once or twice a week. I looked forward to it every time and no matter how i was feeling that day, this particular girl could brighten it. She had the most incredibly supportive and loving family. We all became very close ... I was so sad to say goodbye when i moved to London.
A year ago this week, she passed away in her sleep. It was completely unexpected. I had actually called a week before that to make plans to visit as i hadn't seen her for a couple months.
A song in the musical "Wicked" writes, "Because i knew you, i have been changed for good." At the celebration her life last year, people from all over town came. The venue was packed with people. The "tough boys" from her high school were some of the first to arrive. She touched so many lives, and i wish she could have been around longer to continue spreading her infectious joy. My life has been changed forever because of her. She was the first young girl i worked with and it lit the fire of passion i have for children with special needs.
Another quote speaks to me by Friedrich Nietzsche, "Invisible threads are the strongest ties." ~ Not a day goes by that i don't think of her and thank God for my time with her.
Just reflecting as i wait for the last batch of the best, big, fat, chewy, chocolate chip cookies to bake and thought i'd share.