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Posts Tagged ‘graduation’

Aryeh’s graduation rocked my world and brought joy to my soul.  Not only did my son graduate high school this weekend, but he is also a thriving human being in every way.  There are very few things in life that are a given; no one knows what tomorrow will bring. The good news for Aryeh is that while his life has had many periods of drama and health challenges, he has always found the endurance to forge forward and persevere in every way.

For seven years, my son went to a democratic school called Fairhaven School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.  The school nourished his spirit and made him hungry to live actively in the world around him.  The entire school environment empowered Aryeh and his fellow students to thrive as individuals.  There are quite literally no words that can accurately describe the gratitude I feel for the Fairhaven community and the remarkable staff that has touched Aryeh’s life through the years.

Miracles happen at every turn; hopefully we are blessed to see the miracles even as we deal with the trials and tribulations of life.

Aryeh’s existence was filled with emotional drama from the beginning; our son’s survival was not a given.  He was born with 12,000 platelets per microliter of blood, but the number quickly dropped to 3,000 platelets per microliter of blood.  If my memory is correct, most of us are born with 150,000 -250,000 platelets per microliter of blood at birth.  With a low platelet count, he also suffered from severe bruising throughout his body including his brain. The monitors that covered his body only marked the tedious passing of time; they would have never saved him.

Doctors studied Aryeh for well over a year before they discovered that no other child had ever survived the specifics of his birth condition.  And not only did Aryeh survive, but, he thrived in every way!!!  This has been a reoccurring theme of his from the very beginning.

For many years, Aryeh life appeared to move in a healthy, normal trajectory. And then as a young child, something occurred in Aryeh’s development and he failed to thrive as educators, neurologists, etc. thought he should.  A leading neuropsychologist told us that Aryeh was wired differently and we should never expect him to thrive as a self-sufficient adult.  Well without going into too many details, I am so happy to know that the doctor was WRONG!!!!! Everything he told about our son’s development was WRONG.  (For more info, read part 1 of this blog http://wp.me/pthnB-5v)

Raising Aryeh was not always easy, but once we got through a few really challenging years, life worked well.  Since Aryeh could articulate his thoughts easily, as a family we were always able to get through the hard stuff.  BTW, the neuropsychologist also told us that Aryeh wouldn’t be able to communicate as others.  The good news is the doc was WRONG!!!  Michael and I always believed in Aryeh and his ability to thrive.  As parents, we didn’t know what it would look like, but our job was to keep on moving forward!!! So we did!!!

Aryeh was delayed in some ways, while he soared in others!! I loved watching his mind work and his world reach new heights until hell struck again.  At 13 years old, in March 2006, our world spiraled out of control.  Aryeh’s world was engulfed in pain, he couldn’t function, sometimes he couldn’t walk, he had trouble physically (mechanically) getting dressed, and his entire body was absorbed with pain.  Over the next 5 months, we consulted with many doctors, each telling us to do something different.  In order for Aryeh to survive, brain surgery was a given, but we had so many opinions to navigate.  Meanwhile, we weren’t sure that Aryeh would survive this challenge, a 6.5 cm cyst in his brain.

The next three years were filled with darkness and fear at every turn.  Aryeh was suffering every step of the way.  Two brain surgeries and multiple complications brought him little reprieve from pain.  At 15 years old, we found a doctor that brought life back into our son’s world.  We finally found a doctor who knew what Aryeh needed and gave it to him.  The results took six months to start working, but at least we had glimmers of light during this part of his journey.

The time-line during the three years of Aryeh’s illness is a blur; I guess timing doesn’t matter so much.  We were filled with so many gifts through this journey.  We had amazing friends, Fairhaven School Community, and Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation.  We were surrounded by love, but we were still very much alone.  Unfortunately that is the reality of serious illness or at least it was for us.  The good news is that we made it through the rain, the horrible torrential rain that lasted for so many years.  Today we can easily celebrate life, all of our lives.

Aryeh’s life is a gift in every way!!! I can’t believe how lucky we are to have Aryeh in our lives and how he helps many who know them become more thoughtful individuals.  Whether he is keeping the news in the forefront of our minds or perhaps the individual rights of modern day slaves, Aryeh cares about the world around him.  In school, Aryeh became an extraordinary member of the community.  As tribal death clerk, he cared for the dead animals that were found on campus; and as the Assembly president, he showed his love for the entire school community.

Aryeh was an eloquent speaker during his graduation!  He was thoughtful and prepared with each and every word he spoke.  He prepared his speeches, crafting each and every word. (I wish his neuropsychologist could have seen him.)  When he spoke about his friend Isaiah, every person in the room saw Isaiah’s beauty!  When he acknowledged others for helping him move on his journey, it was easy to feel the gratitude through Aryeh’s eyes.  One of the most touching moments happened when Aryeh thanked his little brother Dovi for putting up with him during the years of illness, many had to wipe their eyes when he ended his remarks with “I love you Dovi”.

For each of us learning takes a different shape.  I am not sure where Aryeh’s journey will take him, but I am so profoundly grateful and happy to admire my ‘little’ boy as I do.  He is amazing as a person who never forgets that he is part of a larger world!!!  May Aryeh be blessed with time to make the world better because of all that he has done, continues to do, and will do in the future.

Aryeh has taught through example that though we don’t always have a choice on what life brings us, we always have a choice of how we travel on that path.

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