I am not really sure how this has happened, but somehow all the sadness which flooded my heart when I thought of my daughter has been replaced with joy. I don't know if it will always be like this, but maybe as time goes by I will feel it more and more.
I think there comes a time in every parent's life where we must set aside the dream of what we thought our child would be and replace it with the person our child has become. Sometimes that happens when they grow up and follow a career path we didn't see them taking, or marry a person we wouldn't have chosen. It happens earlier, I think, for parents of a child born with special needs. One has to reorient one's thinking from the traditional dreams of college and fortune to something more conservative - self-sufficiency, perhaps, or social awareness.
Regardless of the situation, a parent's ideas of what a child is going to be and do never quite match up to reality. Giving up those dreams is often really hard.
I think that's what I've done. I had dreams for Ripley, and none of those dreams came true. In this case, it was really, really hard to let go. But it was not my life; it was hers.
Now I see that she was wonderful in her own special way, and I am proud and infinitely thankful to be able to call her my daughter. I am glad to have been able to care for her during the whole of her life here on earth. I read something Joni Eareckson Tada wrote the other day in regard to 2 Peter 3:8, which says, "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." She said that we often only look at the second half of that sentence. We imagine that in the grand scale of God's time, a thousand years passes in a blink of an eye. But we also need to remember that in God's time, a single day can as significant and worthwhile as a thousand years.
Ripley's time here was short according to my clock, but it lasted forever in my heart.