Last weekend I met several people at the Abilities Expo in Houston that were exceptional. I met a rocket scientist who works 20 hours a week and uses his eyes to slowly type out messages because he can’t talk. I met Nikki who was so excited to find a way to type into a computer more easily. But the person who touched me most deeply was a mom.
Kim talked to me on Friday and told me she would come back with her son if we could get him setup to use AccuPoint. I said sure. On Sunday she returned with her 13 year old twins. Her daughter is a warm, generous young lady with typical physical abilities. Her son is a hard-working young man with a contagious smile and a very uncooperative body. Kim is upbeat, bright, and giggles easily. But her giggle had a nervous quality to it on Sunday. It told me that she has been through a lot over the past thirteen years. In a way that I can’t quite describe, her giggle seemed to be her way of releasing tension. The tension that comes from 13 years of trying new things and being disappointed most of the time. Of having two kids with wildly different needs. Of hoping that this time she’s on the right track and usually finding out that she’s not. She is not discouraged or pessimistic – it is more like she is battle hardened, but still has a loving heart that hopes for a better life for her son.
I don’t remember why Kim started to cry and it was only for a few seconds. It could have been that I disappointed her when I couldn’t give her son a fair trial at using AccuPoint. It might have been Erik diligently searching through our equipment to find a software installation disk, or Barret rearranging our booth, or Jerry holding a computer-mount for several minutes – we were trying so hard to help. It might have been the engineering discussion of how we will change our software to give her son half a fighting chance. Or maybe it was my promise to come back to Houston to work with her son. Maybe it was all of this and more. Whatever the cause, a momentary window into her heart opened and it touched me deeply.
So you ask “what does this have to do with sheep?" Well, I’ve always wondered about the Bible story of the shepherd who leaves the 99 to search for one lost sheep. What causes someone to risk so much to help one? I think the answer is the lost sheep’s mom. She would be one of the 99. I can’t imagine the struggles, pain, and joys that Kim has experienced over the past 13 years. But through her nervous giggle and brief tears I had a momentary glimpse into her world and I can’t shake the memory. We might not be able to help her son but it won’t be because we didn’t try. And if we succeed there will be great rejoicing over this one lost sheep. Hey, I think I’m starting to get it …