Annelih Grace, our daughter, is eight years old now and continues to defy the odds.
She was born with brain damage that left her with the mind of a six month old infant, yet she is still capable of laughing, smiling, and giving out love better than most poeple who have all their faculties intact. There isn't a person she doesn't know; in her world, everybody is a potential friend.
While she may never walk, eat on her own, or talk, Annelih still, somehow, brings out the best in people. People are charmed by her happy, laid-back personality; they want to get to know her better because they love her long, curly blonde hair, sky-blue eyes, and round, pink face. Annelih is absolutely beautiful. (She has my husband Tom's good looks. Meanwhile, I have olive skin, mousy brown hair, and hazel eyes.)
Tate and Sabrina (ages 12 and 14, Annelih's big brother and sister) have since learned to help their little sister out by helping with the feedings, diaper changes, and getting her dressed undressed, as well as helping with her bath, and giving her her medications or helping with the physiotherapy (pounding on her chest, back, and sides, to help keep her lungs clear). They have learned to show compassion towards others in a smiliar position, simply because they deal with their sister's needs on a daily basis. The change in my older kids have been nothing short of startling.
I am extremely proud of them, and so is Tom. We have three great kids; we couldn't be more blessed.
I know the last time I wrote Tom and I were thinking of placing Annelih into a home for special children, but we did our homework and found that it was cheaper (and probably better) to keep her here with us. A child shouldn't live out his or her days in a home that's understaffed or underfunded: they need the love, stability, and support of family and friends, no matter how severely disabled they may happen to be.
Our daughter is certainly no exception. We are delighted that she is still with us.
We had this change of heart after a long, frank talk with her doctors and also the pastor from our church. All agreed that Annelih would do far better in a home environment, so that is what we agreed upon and provide for her care here. If she gets sick, which is often, she will go into the hospital, but once she is well, we rejoice in God's goodness upon her life, and we try to care for her as best as we possibly can.
It's worked out far better than we could have ever hoped it would!
Well, it's time to give Annelih her bath and then get her ready for bed. We will hook her up to her feeding apparatus, which will continuously give her the meds and protein suppliment that she will need throughout the night. We will also hook her up to her oxygen and give her a breathing treatment before she goes to sleep. Then all should be well; we are praying that she has a good night.
I will write in here again soon; just keep Annelih in your prayers; pray that she manages to stay healthy at least for a little while! This running back and forth to the hospital when she is sick is getting old fast! (Annelih just got out of the hospital last week. She had pneumonia. She was in for a week and a half, six days of those in the Intensive Care.) Thanks in advance!
~Ashleigh Evans, Tacoma, Washington.