A greater appreciation for what you had
The gift was her presence. She was completely silent but she was with us. There is a mystery of the human presence that is far beyond this conversation. My daughter reported that she could talk to Jackie about anything and Jackie would listen. When you have someone who cannot speak but can reciprocate love, you get down to some of the basics of humanity. We consider life to be a gift from God. Life is valuable, but for us we saw mysteries of the human interaction that we would not have seen. There is a depth of relationship that exists between each one of us and Jackie that almost doesn’t exist between us in our lives because we are preoccupied. There’s a depth of relationship that takes place and appreciation of life that I think we had some notion of before she died, but in the absence of that you have a greater appreciation for what you had.
I think she has also, because of her life, brought some really amazing people into our lives that we’ve always had but didn’t know we had. We have some really amazing friends now because of that. I think some of our friends that weren’t there for us it showed that maybe they weren’t as good of friends as we thought they were.
A gift to us
She had a positive outlook on life and she never complained. We learned from that. She introduced us to some incredible people. By the fact of her illness we met some wonderful people in the medical profession, in the school she was at, and people who cared for her. That in itself was a gift. These incredible people became important to her and Jackie became important to them. She was also a gift to us in the way that she impacted her sisters. Siblings who are dealing with a child like this have to make amazing adjustments to their own lives. We as a family had to make adjustments. We couldn’t do the things that “normal” families could do. There are things we had to give up and we did because that’s what we had to do and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Just appreciating how our girls responded to that by not complaining and by it just becoming our normal way of life as a family. They’ve accepted that and I hope they have become more caring individuals and more understanding of people who are different. It is really a gift to us to see our girls developing like that.