“Cerebral palsy. Autism. Epilepsy. Intellectually disabled. Cognitively impaired.”
I read the words over and over in a whisper.
In fact, those words seemed to leap off the page despite the rest of the wording that filled the legal document I was holding.
They were only eight words, but those were the eight words used to define my son.
Our son had just turned eighteen years old. Along with that came a new round of responsibilities for me as a dad.
I was supposed to be helping him pick a college. I was supposed to be assisting him in determining what he wanted to do with his life. I was supposed to be teaching him to be responsible for himself.
That was before those eight words. Cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, intellectually disabled and cognitively impaired.
Instead, I found myself, upon his eighteenth birthday, obtaining legal conservatorship and applying for SSI assistance for him. I will be responsible for him for the rest of my life.
In my hands was a medical avadavat from my son’s neurologist. We had obtained the document as part of the necessary documentation for filing for conservatorship. His whole life summed up in those eight words.
Over the past eighteen years we have endured pain, hardships, challenges, and trials that we never imagined or dreamed we would face. Many is the night I have wrestled with God. Many are the days I have questioned, pleaded, begged, and implored God to change our circumstances.
I have so often felt clueless, helpless, and hopelessly inadequate as a special needs dad. I have wandered the caves of unbelief, doubt, and despair searching for meaning and understanding that I never found.
As his father, I look at my son and an entirely different set of words come to my mind. Words that paint a far more accurate picture of who and what he really is to me. name
Unconditionally loved. A perfect gift. A masterpiece. A vessel of God’s grace. My son.
And in that moment I realize that those are the same words my Father uses to describe me, his son.
The night he was born, as I held him in my arms, I had whispered, “I’m your dad. I’ll always take care of you, son.” name
Now that he is eighteen, I still mean those words. And of all the words you can choose to use to describe him or describe him, ultimately there is only one word that matters. name
The last eighteen years are only the beginning. “I’m your dad. I’m still here to help you.”
This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
By Jeff Davidson
Husband to Becky, Father of one
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Rising Above Ministries
Author of No More Peanut Butter Sandwiches: a father, a son with special needs, and their journey with God.
Click HERE for a link to Jeff’s book.