When we moved into a new neighborhood, my daughter Gabrielle definitely struggled. When we saw a group of children her age playing we immediately went over to introduce ourselves but the kids ran away. Gabrielle ran after them but when she couldn’t catch up she burst into tears. It broke my heart to see her hurting! But there wasn’t anything I could do. I didn’t know how to make the neighborhood children like her and want to be her friend.
But it turns out she didn’t need me to make anyone be her friend. Last summer Bailey came into my daughter’s life. Because of Gabrielle’s special needs, I needed someone to be with her during the week while I was at work, and Bailey gladly accepted the position. A week later, I received a text message from Bailey:
“I do not think of Gabrielle as a ‘job.’ She has become a good friend and I am glad I am spending my summer with her.”
I was overwhelmed! My daughter had made a friend who appreciates her for who she is, not what she can or cannot do.
Bailey exposes Gabrielle to the teenage experiences that I can’t: trying on dresses at the mall, laying out at the pool, playing guitar and piano together, rocking out to country music, painting fingernails and braiding each other’s hair. Bailey even took Gabrielle to a festival on her day off, and the two of them had a blast dancing to music and riding rides. Hearing the two girls giggle has been music to my ears!
When Bailey left for college last August, she promised Gabrielle she would stay in touch and true to her word, Bailey continued to be a part of Gabrielle’s life through phone calls and Skype. When she came home for the holidays, Bailey introduced Gabrielle to her college friends and they all whisked Gabrielle away for lunch or ice cream.
According to Bailey,
“Gabrielle may be different in many ways; she may need my help to walk and care for her when she has a seizure, but most of all she needs my friendship and I need hers. Gabrielle isn’t just a job; she is like family to me now. I don’t care for her because it’s what I’m paid to do. I care for her because I love her. She has helped me more than she will ever know. She has taught me selflessness, patience and most of all, unconditional love.”
Everyone needs a best friend. Or should I say a Bailey?