Mollie's parents asked me to read the following at the end of the Funeral Mass for their daughter. I share it here because I think it speaks to what many families with special needs children go through. Tom and Sue, thanks for your honesty and allowing me to share in the life of your daughter.
Tom and Sue would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for being here today. The emotions of the day wouldn’t allow them to deliver this message themselves, so they have asked me to speak on their behalf.
Parents like to dream of the ideal life for their children. That definition normally includes words like healthy, happy, and success. So we were completely devastated when Mollie came 3 months early. But we were reassured by the medical staff that she would be fine. It was not until a year and half later that we were told that Mollie’s life would not be fine, in fact, it might not be good. Having always felt complete control of our lives, this left us lost and out of control. We were devastated that we had a child that would never be a normal child and there was nothing we could do. We tried everything, every therapy, every piece of equipment that would give her some chance. We prayed everyday that Mollie would be perfect – that God would make her healthy. We became angry and frustrated when as time went by it was clear that Mollie would be not be normal, but severely handicapped and would require total care.
There were days, when Sue would cry out "So you think this is funny God – why would you do this to us." Sue lost hope for everything. It was at this lowest level, that Sue called her dad up and said, "Dad I can’t handle having a handicapped child – I can’t do it." And her dad’s simple reply was "Do you love her?" Saying "Of course," her father replied, "Then that is all you need."
After that we realized that this was not about God punishing or being unfair to us. It was about His will. We couldn’t fight it anymore. It was at that point that we gave everything back to Him. We realized the greatest gift we could give to God was to accept His will and trust that He would be with us and Mollie always.
At that point, God’s graces began to pour. We opened our eyes not to what we felt we wanted or deserved but to all the gifts that surrounded us.
We began to accept and even enjoy Mollie at her level. We no longer looked for perfection, but took pleasure in simple things: her smile, her curly hair, her laugh especially at bodily sounds, her effort to put her arms around the babies when we would put them in her lap, holding her head up for a few seconds, making a picture on the computer, and screaming with delight when she knew she was going to school or when Kristi, Bernie, or Grandma were going to be her nurse.
We saw what Mollie did for the world. We don’t believe people felt sorry for her, instead we like to believe Mollie helped them to see the blessings and graces in their lives and appreciate the simple things. That they walked away from Mollie feeling God and His gifts.
We were given the gift of the most incredible friends and family who always knew exactly what Mollie and her family needed. Even if it was a silly hello or a touch of the hand, those things that brought such joy to Mollie. It was always a game to see which neighborhood kid could make Mollie laugh. In the end, we all won.
Mollie gave us the gift of everyone of you sharing in this mass today. If not for Mollie, we may have not had the honor of knowing some of you. Thank you to Kristi and Bernie and all the nurses who brought her comfort, to Beth and Julie and all the therapists who kept her moving, to Lori, Nancy and all the teachers and classmates who brought her fun and joy by including her in everything. We feel so blessed that God sent each and everyone of you to make Mollie’s and our lives a little sweeter.
Lastly, we thank God for Mollie. While we prayed for a perfect child, thinking He had left us and didn’t care, God actually answered us far beyond what we could have dreamed. God did give us a perfect child. Although her body was broken, her soul was perfect. She did not know sin or hatred, only love. We are truly honored and humbled that God entrusted Mollie to our family. We thank Him for giving us 10 years with a perfect child and eternity with a special angel.