“A certain measure of righteousness
A certain amount of force
A certain degree of determination
Daring on a different course”
“The measure of the moment
In a difference of degree
Just one little victory
A spirit breaking free
One little victory
The greatest act can be
One little victory”
Those are part of the lyrics of the song “One Little Victory” from one my favorite rock bands of all time, Rush. I pointed out in my first/introduction post that the first topic I would touch on would be about one of my passions which is my family. As you read along you’ll see why I wanted to entitle this post One Little Victory.
Couple of days ago my niece graduated from high school. To protect her identity we’ll call her “Angel”. Graduating from high school is great achievement in it’s own right. At least from the perspective of your children, your siblings, close friends etc. You might say a lot of people graduate from high school every year. That might be true but, my niece’s high school graduation was the culmination of an amazing journey of courage,determination and overcoming the odds in such a way that it is worth writing a novel. But I’ll try to keep it as short and simple on this post.
Angel is a special needs human being. She was born with lots of health issues and complications. Including a very weak heart. At age one she went through heart surgery with the doctors giving her little chance of survival. She pulled through it though. She was also born with an open palate. So her developing years as a child were very troubling when it came to communicating with her. Also she had to wait to be older in order to have surgery to close her palate. Another issue was her chronological age vs. her mental age. She suffers from a certain syndrome where for example a child might be 12 years old, but has a mental age of a 3 year old. All these and some other health issues were part of her every day life. She started school at age 4 at a special needs kids classroom. The Special Needs program from my Country’s Department of Education is a very flawed system. Not enough personnel and resources, lots of bureaucracy etc. We all saw that the school was doing Angel more harm than good. So my sister (her mom) took the bold decision of moving to the U.S. along with Angel and her 2 younger children (a boy and a girl) hoping to find a better future for the 3 of them, but the main target was Angel. My other niece and my nephew are two completely healthy young human beings thanks The Universe. It’s worth noting that this bold move by my sister was done she being a single mom. My other sister was already living at the same place Angel’s mom was moving so at least she had a little bit of help of putting her feet on firm ground.
At this point in time, Angel’s heart condition was no longer a major issue, her communication skills were much better thanks to some talk therapy. But as her body was transforming into a full teenager, her brain was still of a 5 year old. Which I think this was a blessing in disguise.You’ll see why later on. My sister quickly found a job at a Kids Day Care facility. Angel and her 2 younger siblings went back to school. This was a big concern for all of us in the family. because we knew this was gonna be a major change and huge culture shock for the kids. And this was because my country of origin is a Spanish speaking country. So my nieces and nephew knew little or no English at all when they went to their new school. Especially Angel and her limited communication skills. Fortunately and to my surprise Angel’s younger brother and sister were speaking better English than me in a matter of six months after moving to their new home. So that was a relief.
Angel also adapted very quickly to our surprise. And this happened thanks to guess what… Her blessing in disguise. Her 5 year old mentality. She won everyone’s heart who worked at that school. Her innocence , her ability to love without prejudice touched everyone who went in contact with her. That led to people more willing to help her. Including better doctors, better therapists, better counselors, better teachers etc. Angel’s improvements were more notable as the years passed. Her communicating skills, Her interaction skills with other people. She even got into a program where she could experience having a real job by working 2 or 4 hours a week at a department store and a supermarket. Although she’s inseparable with her mom. She’s more independent now than she was 5 years ago.
One thing I haven’t mention about Angel is her photographic mind. Especially with past events, music lyrics and dances. Just to give you an example of this, every once in a while she comes to me and say something like this.. “Uncle, do you remember the day you took me to the ice cream shop and you ordered x flavored ice cream and I ordered y flavored ice cream?. I’m like how in the world she can remember that??. That happened like 10 years ago and she was still a little kid??. And with that kind of detail??. I know I’ve taken her several times to that ice cream shop. But if you ask me for specifics like that, forget it about it. It’s impossible for me to remember. As far as music goes, she loves music.She adores music. Especially Latin music. Salsa, Merengue, Latin Pop, Bachata you name it. And the amazing thing is how accurate she is when it comes to lyrics. She can sing every single word of a certain song. And if the song has a dance move. She dances and sings it like the original artist. Of course she still has some trouble with pronouncing some words but it still amazes me how accurate she is. That’s why every party she goes, if there’s music she likes, she’ll become the life of the party in no time. And if the party happens to have a Kareoke machine??. She will be the first to take the mic and start singing like there’s no tomorrow.
Recently we experienced yet another health scare with Angel. Now we found out that she suffers from seizures. She suffered a big seizure about a year and a half ago. It was so big we feared we might lose her this time. But yet again. Her mom was there at the right place at the right time to help her. My sister recognized the symptoms right away and took the right course. That prevented a more worse scenario. Angel had to be hospitalized for observation to prevent for more big seizures to occur. Thank The Universe she’s taking medication and the condition is under control at the moment.
That’s Angel saying hello to her raving fans(her mom,her aunt and her brothers) at her graduation ceremony. Too bad i couldn’t be there to celebrate that moment with her. But that’s what destiny has decided. Depending on the perspective of the observer, to some, that would’ve been just another day. But to others that day was a huge victory and a success not only for Angel, but for all of us who care deeply about her. A big chunk of credit goes out to my sister. Who was the one that paved the road that led Angel to appear on the picture above. And if you put the words dedication and sacrifice on that last sentence, It would make it an automatic understatement.
It’s been 22 years since Angel came to our lives. And I can say without any doubt and with my watery eyes as I’m writing this, that I have learned more from Angel rather than me teaching her. I have learned more from her than any other teacher can teach me about what life is all about. Angel is a pure soul. Filled with the brightest light in The Universe. She has no malice, her brain doesn’t recognize the word hate. That’s why her child mind is more of a blessing rather than a problem. Everywhere she goes, her presence fills the room with a light full of happiness, kindness and joy. She gives you her heart without hesitation and without asking something in return. She has no Ego and so she doesn’t feel like she is someone better or worse than anybody. She’s the purest expression of that thing we call Love. Could you imagine how this planet would be like if it would be populated only by people just like Angel??. Try and picture that. After you picture it. Don’t you think this place would be a totally different and much better place to live??.
So to my dear niece I say. Thank you Angel… Not only for that Huge Victory that you gave to us your family and friends. But also to gave us a huge lesson in life of how life itself is better lived by the way you live it. Thank you for that One Little Victory that makes this Universe a much better place to live and for more Little Victories to come. I love you with all my heart and soul.