“My Son’s Angel”

I was touched by this story of one child caring for another child with special needs. We are blessed by every child who comes into the world with a pure heart filled with loving kindness. I am also grateful for people like Hartley and her husband, Jeff, who adopt children in need of loving parents.

by Hartley Steiner

Hartley Steiner

I met an Angel just a few weeks ago.

She is not the kind that lives in heaven, but the other kind, the kind that lives on earth.

She doesn’t have a halo (at least not one you can see). This Angel has blonde hair and a smile that reveals her missing tooth—giving away her age much like the wrinkles around my eyes give away my own.

Like most other Angels that you read about, she came at a time that she was needed, and gave Hope to someone who needed it desperately.

What makes this Angel special to me is that she came to help my son, Gabriel.

You see, this young girl is in my Gabriel’s class, and unlike the other 20-something children that are only able to see how different he is, this young girl sees how alike they are.

This special girl chose to become his friend and share a unique kind of compassion that only the purest of heart can have. The kind of compassion granted to Angels.

But not every child has the strength to follow their heart and do what is right. For that matter, not every adult does either.

Which made me begin to worry. Worry that the burden of being my son’s friend would be too much for this child. Any child. I worried because I know that standing up for someone who can’t stand up for themselves is a test for anyone at any age.

And I knew that she would be tested.

Tested by older children and their mean words on the bus; tested by classmates who ridiculed her for being friends with my son; and tested by her own internal desire for self preservation.

I wondered how she would react and how her parents would feel about her choice.

Then one afternoon Gabriel came home and shared with me that his new found friend was tormented relentlessly on the bus until the young girl broke down and cried.

All for being friends with my son.

Gabriel tried to console her. Not sure why the other kids were being so mean, not concerned for himself, just for his friend. His only friend.

As Gabriel was retelling the day’s events, my heart broke for this young girl.

And as night fell I was consumed with worry about the burden this child had chosen to carry—-a burden much heavier than her small shoulders should carry. And one much heavier than I feared she could carry.

Night turned to a new day and Gabriel had been invited to help her celebrate her birthday.

We arrived on the young girl’s doorstep that afternoon, me with butterflies in my stomach and Gabriel clutching a present wrapped in a special bag adorned with pink roses that he had chosen just for his friend.

After the cake was cut and the presents unwrapped, I decided it was time to tell her mother of the sacrifices her daughter was making in order to be friends with my son.

“Your daughter has become my son’s only friend and the other children are teasing her. I am so sorry for your daughter’s tears.”

And with conviction her mother replied,

“She is strong. She is a leader. Her father and I have told her that she can show the other children to have love in their hearts and be friends with everyone. The other children will follow her. We believe she can do it.”

And I cried.

Tears of joy.

Standing in her living room. Taking in the idea that this woman was strong enough and open enough to teach her child to be capable of true acceptance and compassion so rare that they would elevate her to be my son’s Angel. I was grateful. Deeply. Immensely. Grateful.

Gabriel Steiner, a little boy with an angel's name

I don’t have the words to describe the deep unrelenting pain that grows in a mother’s heart every time her son complains of being lonely, of having no play dates, of not being invited to birthday parties, of being bullied or just simply having to eat lunch at a table all alone.

And I struggled to find the right words to thank this woman for raising such a beautiful daughter both inside and out. Thank you for giving her the strength and support to become the kind of woman, the kind of person, that this world needs. That my son needs.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

I have always known that one person can change the life of a child. But I left that birthday party knowing that this child, along with her family, had changed the life of MY child.

So with each passing day Gabriel gets on the bus, I know that he isn’t going alone. He has a very special Angel beside him. But don’t look towards heaven or try to spot a halo because you might miss your chance to see her. Instead look for the small blonde girl with the missing tooth—she is sitting on the seat next to my son.

Here’s to hoping there is an Angel for each of our children,

I encourage you to leave a comment for this young Angel and her family. I would like them to know how moms of special kids view people who are able to rise up and see not just our child’s disability, but the beautiful child that is inside each of them.

Hartley Steiner lives in the Seattle area with her husband Jeff and their three sons: Gabriel, Nicholas and Matthew. Gabriel struggles with Sensory Processing Disorder, High Functioning Autism, Bipolar and Learning Disabilities. Hartley is the author of SPD children’s book This is Gabriel Making Sense of School. When she isn’t writing, or dealing with a meltdown, she enjoys spending time in the company of other adults preferably with good food and even better wine.

Click here to view all my posts about parenting.


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