It's a special day. Feels like you've waited forever for today. Finally, it's here!
People begin to arrive for the celebration, many of them bearing gifts. You eye the brightly-coloured packages with a sense of anticipation. Fluttery feelings dance through your stomach. Today is the day!
You notice something unusual - there is a package, just peeking out from a polka-dot gift bag, that is wrapped up in plain brown packing paper. For just a moment you wonder about that package, but soon the joyful mood around you distracts you from your musings.
The excitement builds until the time for opening the gifts arrives. At last! You begin with care, trying not to tear the pretty paper, but that only lasts for a moment before eagerness wins out and you tear into each package voraciously.
As each present's wrapping and packaging is tossed aside, a pile of precious items grows at your feet. You open one package that promises blue eyes, another offering curly brown hair. Sweet baby smiles and coos...endless childhood hugs...bundles of dandelion flowers...
You are done, and there is so much joy. But wait, that intriguing box - the one wrapped simply in brown paper - remains. You aren't very excited about opening that one. In fact, the thought of accepting that gift is a bit scary. But you know that if you ignore it, the giver will be hurt. It is with trepidation that you take this gift in ugly wrapping onto your lap, slowing pulling back the corners.
It can't be! No. You want to stop opening it. You can tell that this box holds something much different than baby-powder smells, booty-covered toes, or bassinet naps. This is big. Scary. What is this thing?! There are a million words to describe it, to understand it, but the explanation that reverberates in your head is, "Something is wrong." Sometimes this present is called Down Syndrome or heart defect; in my case it was called Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy.
You wish you had never even noticed that package. Sometimes you wish that you had never come to your special day. But you have no choice, you place that present in the pile with all the others.
As days and years go by, you have moments where all you see are the treasures that came out of the first several gift bags. They are like gold coins from a treasure chest. Other days, you will find yourself seeing only the stuff from the other package - the unwanted gift. Beside the gold coins, they are lumps of coal.
The passage of time reveals a surprising discovery. Something seems to be happening to those coals. You see a glimmer peeking through the dirt and ash. Suddenly you remember - under the right circumstances, coal becomes diamonds. Diamonds! Diamonds such as unbridled joy at a new accomplishment, unconditional love for others, unexpected moments of beauty. Each diamond is valuable beyond measure. Certainly more precious than a handful of gold coins.
You think to yourself, "If I had never opened that gift in the ugly package, I would never have discovered these precious gems!"
A woman with a handful of gold is rich. A woman whose gold coins lay among a pile of coals knows she's rich. A woman whose coals slowly turn into diamonds not only knows she's rich, but knows that she is blessed!
Having a child with special needs and/or medical issues is like receiving that gift wrapped in packing paper. At first, we may not really want to open that gift because the wrapping doesn’t look as pretty as we hoped it would. But once a Mom tears into that paper to see what’s inside, she will discover unimaginable treasure! Sure, there will likely be a number of cubic zirconia stones (and more coals) mixed in with all the treasure – each will bring new disappointment – but the discovery of real diamonds makes the gift worth every moment of discouragement.