A Gift From a Special Needs Boy: Thank You Tommy

Grace, Tommy, and Alex during a play date together.
Grace, Tommy, and Alex during a play date together. | Source

Preparing for the Arrival of a Baby

When a family is expecting a child, joy, love, and happiness almost always surrounds the expectant mother and her family members. As the pregnancy evolves, and all is well with the mother and unborn child, a baby shower often takes place, the nursery is set up and decorated, and clothes, toys, and baby equipment are put in place. The family prepares to welcome a beautiful and healthy being into the world and into their home.

Tommy as a newborn.
Tommy as a newborn. | Source

The Birth Trauma

Tommy was born February 6,2009. He was just over a month early but aside from the early arrival, there was really no reason to think that he would not be a typically boy who would run and jump, sing and dance, and find himself in a quandary or two just as any boy might. As his mother’s labor progressed, he started to show signs of duress and then the doctor made a decision to use forceps to remove him from the birth canal. It was a decision that would change that family’s life forever.

Shortly after the birth, Tommy started to have seizures. Even a first time mother knows that this was not a good sign. With an identifiable horizontal mark on his forehead, the doctors and nurses whisked him away to the high risk unit so that he could get specialized care. Unfortunately this meant another hospital location. Now his mother was in one hospital and Tommy was in another. Over the next several days, many tests and exams were done. Seizures continued and it was determined that there was a large bleed on his brain.

The Next Two Years: A Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis

Over the next two years, Tommy had numerous tests done, went to many specialists, had countless seizures. In addition to the seizures, there were other complications such as severe reflux problems which affected his weight, breathing problems and pain. He was in and out of the hospital and even had some emergency trips in the middle of the night. The doctors told his parents that he had severe Cerebral Palsy and he would not live a long life. How long? They would not say. They could not tell how severely the CP would impact his growth and development. At one point the doctors described his brain as Swiss cheese.

A Family United

In the face of adversity, many families fall apart. This family did just the opposite. They united together and took the challenge head on. Tommy's mom took an extended leave of absence from work to put all of her energy into caring for her son. Tommy's dad continued to go to work and carry on with his obligations in his professional life and come home to care for Tommy and relieve his wife for a while. I do not know many people that would have pulled together in this way and have become a united team. Were there tough times? Definitely. But in the end, they came together to provide Tommy with the best care that they possibly could. I told my dear friend from the start that Tommy was very lucky to have been born into her family. For if anyone would give him the kind of love, care, and dedication to providing the best possible life he could have, it was her. She continues to amaze me with her strength and courage.

Tommy's seizures have minimized due to the long road of finding the right medication and dosages. He attends school and continues to receive physical and occupational therapy. Tommy will never walk or talk the way that a typical child does. We celebrate moments like Tommy turning his head when his name is called, the laughs and big smiles that he gives, along with him lifting his head up for an extended period of time.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Tommy even tolerates Grace dressing him up!Grace and Tommy have a special relationship.Playing instruments and singing together.Love, hugs, and kisses.
Tommy even tolerates Grace dressing him up!
Tommy even tolerates Grace dressing him up! | Source
Grace and Tommy have a special relationship.
Grace and Tommy have a special relationship. | Source
Playing instruments and singing together.
Playing instruments and singing together. | Source
Love, hugs, and kisses.
Love, hugs, and kisses. | Source

Tommy's Gift

Tommy has given my family an amazing gift. The gift to learn about, understand, and accept others as they are. Although I like to believe that my children would have compassion and understanding for others even if Tommy had not come into our lives, that they would be willing to befriend that person. I do know that because of Tommy, my children have been able to learn a lesson very young in life that many people never learn. They play with Tommy as they would with any other child. They read with him, sing songs, even play games with him. The only difference is that they know "his brain doesn't work like ours." They accept him the way that he is and help him to play with them. They know how to make him laugh and smile and ask often when they can play with Tommy. I cannot explain why God chose to allow Tommy to come into the world with the disability that he has, but I can only express my tremendous gratitude. He has brought joy to our lives and special place in our hearts. Last week Tommy celebrated his third birthday. We are so happy to have him as a part of our lives.

Grace and Tommy singing a song with friends.

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Comments 35 comments

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona

It's a privilege to be the first to thank you for this beautiful true story. All children can touch our hearts so poignantly and teach us about life, but children who have special needs and who struggle with daily living can touch us and teach us so exquisitely we never forget the days we share with them. Thank you for sharing the story of your little friend and his family.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

You are welcome Pamela. It is such an honor to have him in our lives. Thank you for your kind words.


Karen Hellier profile image

Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

Very sweet story. The video makes the story come to life. May God bless Tommy and his family.


KrystalD profile image

KrystalD 4 years ago from Los Angeles

Thank you for sharing this personal story. It really highlights that each child, each person, has something special to give. Very touching. Thanks for another great hub!


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Thank you so much Karen, I appreciate your kind words.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

I agree Krystal. Each human being has something to offer this world and it is not our place to judge. Thanks for reading and commenting.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

Thank you for sharing this difficult journey, and I'm glad things our looking up. It should give hope to those who go through bad time. Voting this Up and Beautiful.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Yes, his family treasures each day with him and we treasure our time we get to spend with him as well. Thanks alocsin.


ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 4 years ago from Chennai, India

Nice story about Tommy. Good to know that Tommy survived and he led a normal life with sweet people including you. Thank u for sharing. Awesome. Vote up.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Thank you cardelean for sharing this story with us, what a privilege it is to read about and meet Tommy.

Voting up and awesome, best wishes Lesley


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Yes, ishwaryaa22. He did survive and is living as normal of a life that is possible with his disabilities. Thank you for your comments.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

I'm so glad that you stopped by to read MM. Thank you for your kindness.


pmccray profile image

pmccray 4 years ago from Utah

Tommy's biggest gift is bring joy and true love to every one he come in contact with, a true Godsend. Wonderful meaningful hub. Voted up, marked beautiful and interesting.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Agreed pmccray. He is a wonderful and special person. Thank you for you beautiful thoughts.


EyesStraightAhead profile image

EyesStraightAhead 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

Shared on FB and voted up. This is wonderfully written, truly inspiring, and encouraging. When our children are not "like" other kids or have disabilities or life-challenging illnesses, we learn so much more from them than they will from us. My daughter is different from other kids and I am so thankful for how she has taught me to love unconditionally, teach in the way the student can learn instead of what I am comfortable with, and always be patient and controlled in my actions. She has taught me to see the world through others' eyes even more than I was already! Thank you for sharing this and encouraging me that others are also learning from their children. Tommy sounds like an amazing kid!


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

ESA, your beautiful comments truly brought tears to my eys. We have learned so much from Tommy and the courageous efforts that his family has made. I wish your family and your daughter all of the best. I am sure that she is teaching others so much just as Tommy does. Thank you for visiting and your votes/shares.


EyesStraightAhead profile image

EyesStraightAhead 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

I believe if more people would take time out, as you have, to notice the amazing things kids can teach us, we would find ourselves less absorbed in the things of the world and more involved with the people who comprise it.


EyesStraightAhead profile image

EyesStraightAhead 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

Cardelean, I would like to share something else that I wasn't going to share. But I feel it is beneficial and a "quality comment". You have a line in which you note, "I cannot explain why God chose to allow Tommy to come into the world with the disability that he has..." As a Toastmaster, I am able to hear many people share great stories about their lives. If you ever have a chance to go to a competition, please do. It is a fun event and you learn so much from others. That said, a few years ago I heard a speaker at one of the competitions who shared a story of his little sister. She had been born with a disease that meant she was on borrowed time. Before she was born, his family was in disarray and he remembered a lot of arguing, very little time with his parents, and wanting to die at times. However, when his little sister arrived, he watched as his family bonded together, began learning the definition of quality time, and started taking an interest in little things about one another. He watched as this little girl brought together not only his family, but his extended family, as his parents had divorced when he was just a child. He watched as his mother and father finally sat in a room and talked about what went wrong and how they could be better spouses to their current loves. He spoke of watching his brothers and sisters he never knew become some of the best friends he would have. He shared that he had more memories of the five years his little sister was with his stepfather, mother, and him, than he had the other 36 years of his life. Since he was older when she arrived, he remembers the pain and sadness of knowing she would die one day. He also remembered the joy she brought to them. They took trips, they shared laughter and tears. Most of all, they shared an understanding of unconditional love. You see, this little girl was adopted by his family when she was abandoned in the hospital by the mother who had given birth to her. When the mother found out she was going to die, she could not stand to raise her. This family was on a list for state adoptions and had been fostering kids, and the worker who "happened" to take case was a good friend of the family. Why do I share this LONG comment and story with you? His last few sentences, which will always stay with me (and I so have tears as I write this so be forewarned!) were this, "Some people would ask why was my little sister born with a disease that would kill her. They would ask why she only lived five years. I ask why were we so blessed to be the ones God chose for her to live with and share those five amazing and wonderful years."


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Ok, I'm really glad that I don't have to pick up my students for another 30 minutes because I am pretty much bawling right now. That was an amazing story, thank you so much for sharing this beautiful and amazing story.


EyesStraightAhead profile image

EyesStraightAhead 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

You're welcome, and sorry for not thinking about the fact that others work during the day and have to go into public with others! Oops. Sometimes it is really all about our perspective, that is what I learned. Again, thank you for sharing this story. I look forward to reading your other work!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

Cara-that is a beautiful hub and video. I LOL watching it but it is a heart tender moment. voted up. I was also touched by EyesStraightAhead's story. :)


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

No problem! Thanks and I'll be heading your way soon too!


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Thanks Mom, glad you enjoyed it. It was nice that I had the video to add of them.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

Cardelean - What a touching story and so beautifully told! Thank you for sharing it!


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

You're welcome Stephanie. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. He's a special little guy!


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina

This was so beautifully written and inspiring. You can see the joy on Tommy's face when Grace is "lovin him up".

Thanks so much for sharing this on Hub Pages.

Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful and interesting.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Thanks you Gail. You sure were up late (or early!) I'm glad that you could see the connection between those two kiddos! It really is special. Your comments are greatly appreciated.


Tommy's Mother!! 4 years ago

Wow! Cara you are a wonderful friend! Tommy and I are so lucky to have your family and you in OUR lives! I'm crying so hard right now!! Absolutely beautiful!!

And...oh so very true!! lol You forgot the part about how good looking I am and funny too! lol

We are expecting another baby. We are 7 weeks pregnant. Everyone please keep us in your prayers. Bless you all!!


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Of course you are good looking and funny too! How could I have forgotten to include that? We are so excited for your new news and you will of course be in our prayers. :)


Julia 4 years ago

Beautifully written! Tommy and his parents are truly special people. God brought them together for a purpose. We are very excited about Tammy's pregnancy and they are always in my prayers. I miss you all!

(Tommy's favorite Aunt):)


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Thank you so much Julia. You are right, they were brought together for a purpose and I have learned so much from all of them. Thank you for your kind comments and we are excited for the new little one as well!


Aunt Marie 4 years ago

I love it. Thank you for your beautiful story and adorable video. Tommy's wonderful friends are a reflection of his parents love and care of him.

(Tommy's other favorite Aunt)


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Thanks for your comment Aunt Marie! You are right, his parents are to be credited for all of his wonderfulness...glad you shared your thoughts.


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

What a beautiful story - and so tenderly told. Thanks for sharing this example of love and acceptance. I plan to link it to a hub I wrote about a Special Needs person who taught me a lot when I was a child. Voted up, awesome and beautiful.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Thank you so much for your kind comments Marcy. I appreciate the link and have added yours as well!

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