I was recently paid a long overdue visit, by a very special friend of mine. Now, when I say that Colleen is a special friend, I don’t just mean that she is someone who is important to me, I mean she is truly, a one-of-a-kind, special human-being. Losing her only child in 2007, Colleen has experienced tragedy, that many of us could never, and will never comprehend. Her sudden loss had became a marker in her existence, dividing her life into 3 categories: before, during, and after her son’s death. I was lucky enough to have known Colleen during each category of her life. I always knew she was special, but I watched her evolve into greatness! Colleen is not super-human, she went through every stage of grief that anyone who suffers loss will experience. Through each inevitable stage of grief, she made choices that would little by little, change the direction of her life. The choices she made, were a reflection of the shift in her priorities, and the shift in her priorities, was a reflection of her loss. Just days after her son, Scott passed, she made a decision to use her son’s legacy, and create a positive impact in her community. To make a very long, and inspiring story short, Colleen is the founder of SCOTT Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides educational programs to inspire our youth towards selfless service. With the help of many other special people, Colleen was able to create something that she knew her son would be proud of. It was an amazing thing to watch!
I hadn’t seen Colleen in a several months, and still had yet to tell her of Gia’s recent diagnosis. Since her son, Scott’s passing, I consciously avoided venting my personal hardships to Colleen; after all, she had been through the ultimate hardship, and the degree of my stress, could never compare. When Colleen uttered the inevitable question, “What’s new in your life?”, not only was I ready to tell her, but I was dying for her inspiring words. As I gave Colleen a very brief run-down of Gia’s diagnosis, I couldn’t help but notice the subtle smile in my dear friends face. Her smirk was contagious, and as the corner of my mouth began to rise in response, I said, “What? What is it?”. In true Colleen fashion, her explanation for the unusual reaction, was one that I had never heard before, and one that I will never forget. As I intently listened to my friend, with a tear now building in her eye, her feelings became clear; Colleen was happy for Gia and I! She told me that my daughter was given a very special gift, the gift of seeing the world in a way that many of us never will; not burdened with all of the “noise” around her. She said that Gia didn’t have “special needs”, rather, she was “differently gifted”, and I was the lucky one that had been blessed with her.
I knew I had come a long way in my acceptance of Gia’s diagnosis, but Colleen’s response brought me a kind of comfort I had yet to feel. My feelings about this new challenge in my life, is constantly evolving; going from feeling victimized by God, to feeling lucky for this gift, is a space I didn’t think I would ever be. I have undoubtedly gone through all the stages of grief, just as Colleen did; grieving the loss of my perception of perfection. I now have a full heart, with a whole lot of purpose, and if that isn’t perfection, than I don’t know what is. This is the most perfect I’ve ever felt!
Of all of the mind-shifting things that Colleen shared with me that day, for some reason, there was one that really stuck with me. She told me that she was not a bit surprised to hear that I, of all people, was given this incredible responsibility, and wonderful blessing of a differently gifted child. I guess she thinks I’m pretty special too 🙂
Please visit http://www.scott-foundation.org and read all about the difference that Colleen is making in the lives of our youth.