Cole’s Special Day! Part 1

***Warning*** Box of Tissues May Be Needed! At least for me…

What follows was originally a bulletin article I wrote in April 2005. I am changing the tenses and modifying what was originally written to reflect the new reality.

I cried when I first wrote this. I suspect I’ll cry a bit as I edit and write today. It’s one of those things I just can’t do without shedding a tear or two. Maybe one day I’ll write about an everyday occurrence that always gives me pause and if I don’t shed a tear, at the very least I end up with a big lump in my throat.

But that’s another day.

In the meantime, there will be a part two to this blog article where I will explore my thoughts on Cole’s biggest special day. We will talk about my newfound belief in what the Holy Spirit does and the comfort that thought gives me. I am not positive I can prove it, but I am positive you can’t disprove it.

How’s that for confidence?

So read away. I’ll have something else to say at the end…

At the time I originally wrote this, Cole was my middle child. He was fifteen years old. He was quite small in comparison to other kids his age. He was a delightful boy who always had a ready smile on his face and a laughing glint in his eyes.

He often caught us completely off guard with extremely funny comments or expressions. Several months before this writing, he announced that he wanted a girlfriend. A quite normal desire for a fifteen year old male of our particular species. What was funny was his next three words: “Get me one.”

On the Saturday before I wrote this, we watched him compete in three athletic endeavors. Both of his brothers, his grandparents, and assorted collection of friends, and of course, both parents were there to cheer him on.

For three weeks or so prior to that Saturday, we were barraged with an endless supply of the same question. Over and over again, we were asked, “Are you coming to my special day?”

And so we gathered with a great number of people to watch the Special Olympics at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, otherwise known as Cole’s Special Day.

This, I believe, was our fourth time. The first was a killer.

We arrived that particular year and it was an exceptionally hard shock to my system. I’ve always known Cole had Cerebral Palsy. I’ve always known he was different. I’ve always known that the world saw him as handicapped or worse. What I didn’t know, what I didn’t understand, what I didn’t expect to see was how well Cole fit in with all of those special athletes who were, well, so different.

In many respects, life was never the same. When you are the parent of a child like Cole, you often tell yourself little lies. “He’ll catch up.” “He’ll get better.” That first Special Olympics was the day the chickens came home to roost.

Cole was different and the difference matters to some folks. But not to me. Not to me.

I learned much from Cole and the other very special participants of the Special Olympics. Their motto, shouted at the top of their voices as the games are declared open, never failed to make me emotional. “Let me win. But, if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Thank you, son, for teaching me so much!

And you did, Cole. You gave me a lifetime of learning how to celebrate what was different, rejoicing over small milestones, and basking in your unconditional love.

One of my greatest regrets is not always having the patience I should have.

I miss you so very much. And at the same time, I am glad you are now with a Father who has no human limitations in love, patience, mercy, or grace.

Tears are streaming down my face as I write this…

There are days in which I feel no hope in ever seeing you again–not because I disbelieve in God or the heaven you inhabit, whole and perfect. No, I lack hope some days because I know my own flaws and failures. I know my own argument with God. I know my own angry rebellion.

But I am trying.

I am trying to live life like you did. I am trying to live the motto you so enthusiastically shouted out on your special game days…

Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.

32 thoughts on “Cole’s Special Day! Part 1

  1. But Les,is this not where GRACE comes into play?? Is this not where we do our best and GOD takes over with his Grace…it is not us, with our own human limitations,(we can do nothing but fail when we depend on ourselves) but b/c of our relationship with Him…no matter what our failings are…He makes us winners, He has promised we will WIN in the end, if we only try….Cole was a wise man, indeed.

    • Yeah. I hear you. But when you have trust issues anyway… But I am trying. Hope things in Monroe are well! I am glad you are reading.

  2. God has a purpose for each of his special angels. We attempt to teach our angels how to walk, talk, eat and live on this earth, but we sometimes miss why they are here. It is to teach us what the true meaning of love really is.
    I’m praying for you and your family. My heart breaks for you all because it brings to life that I have to be the over-protective mom to protect my special angel.
    P.S. What you went through is something you will NEVER “get over”. I’m sorry people have said things that should have never came out of their mouths. I guess we are all guilty of opening our mouths before we put our brain in gear. God be with you.

    • Thank you. I feel your struggle and hope you are able to keep your child well protected. In hindsight, we were too trusting, but we had no idea. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  3. Tough to write, I’m sure…. I smiled so big imagining him with the “get me one” line. 😀 He is a special person, indeed, one who is now free of Cerebal Palsy. You will see him again, Les. And that will be YOUR Special Day!

    Until then it’s moment by moment….

  4. I too remember that 1st year. I was there too with Maegan. I like you remember that day but I was in denial mode. I looked at Rick with what I call alligator tears in my eyes saying she doesn’t belong here. She not as bad off as these kids. I too use to say “she’ll catch up” she’s just having problems but she’ll catch up. Well now she’s too old to attend a lot of things but she too doesn’t have the mind of about a 12 year old in her 25 year old body. Do you remember the picture board I made one year of her and Cole’s special Olympics pictures and displayed it at church to share their events? God bless you and your new life. May you continue to heal and grow. Much love.

    • Yeah… I remember that day well. Bitter sweet memories… Thanks for reading and writing. Tell her and Rick I said hello!

  5. Cole is…was…and always be special…..he never ceased to make me smile…..cant wait for part two. I dont think i have truly dealt with the grief and pain of losing Timmy. Your writing and me reading it is slowly helping me begin to allow myself to hurt ..PLEASE kerp writing. Love you!!!

  6. Granted we all have flaws. Not a one is righteous, not even one. BUT Jesus is our righteousness. Heb. 10:14 He became our sin so we can be righteous in him. 2Cor 5:21 you are clothed in Christ, so when God sees you He sees Christ. Your flaws are covered. God bless you dear brother. Sorry for you losses. God has a message to share with others through you.

    • Jim, theologically I understand what you are saying. Emotionally, it is hard to trust that, but I am trying. Thank you for the encouragement!

      • God bless you in this struggle Les. In no way do I want to downplay the hurt you must feel in the tragedy you have experienced. God’s grace is amazing and I’m sure He will see you through to victory. You have a “life message” to share with others. A message most of us can’t comprehend. So much of what we communicate comes from our head, not our heart. Blessings to you!

  7. So thankful for my dear, wonderful, imperfect, messy sisters for posting your blog on our Group 7 facebook page. I have been sitting here since 5 am something reading, crying, weeping, mourning with you anew, and am equally flailing, frustrated and furious at the ‘church’ for some of their absolutely insane responses to your hell here on earth. This sister is with you and your family in thought and prayer now, and I will be keeping up with you and your journey.

    • Thank you for your response! I so appreciate you reading. I hope you’ll subscribe and stick around for the journey… We are definitely going somewhere!

  8. I keep relating your words to my own situation, which is different, yet there are parallels. Thank you for helping me out my own thoughts and conclusions.

    • You are welcome. I am glad I can be of service and I am glad you are reading and commenting. I love you and Sharon much. We should do a double date soon!

  9. Les, 2005 was a very eventful year, with Katrina making it’s appearance in August. However, it was our mission trip to Honduras in July that really sticks out in my mind. I worried about how Cole could handle such a trip. But I have pictures of him nailing siding on to the house we built and pictures of him sitting on the rafters nailing down the tin roofing. He had such a loving heart for others. I can see him riding piggy-back down the mountain and back up again. Everyone loved Cole so much that they were determined to do whatever it took for him to be able to participate in every good work that was done.
    Most of all today, I am reminded of his love for the Bible. How he would grab my arm at church and say “Bible Study”. Cole is a very special young man, whom I love and miss dearly.

  10. Your posts continue to touch me. My daughter is non-verbal, not yet walking at age 5, and has autistic like features all due to her mitochondrial disease. I am very grateful for our church family who loves her and put a ramp on our house 2 years ago for her wheelchair. But I, too, struggle with trusting people when it comes to caring for her. She has no way to tell me if something has happened. Your story has touched a deep nerve in me both in regards to my daughter and my faith. Doubt is hard, questioning is hard but the toughest blow of all can be the condemnation of fellow believers who disagree with decisions you have made in faith. Thank you for sharing your journey. Stop by my blog sometime. I’m not as prolific or profound as you but I do share from the heart. God’s blessings, my friend.

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