Lori, our precious daughter, you are sleeping soundly in your room, once
again oblivious to the adventure you are about to undertake. But this time,
you are not starting to school, becoming a teenager, or flirting with your
first admirer, as when I've written you before. This time, your adventure
will not start out as exciting or wonderful. For, this time, you will become
I thought if I wrote it down like I usually do, it would be easier. I was
wrong. The reality is that you will not just have a "little problem
as we have frequently explained to our guests. But, by the time you begin
school next fall, you will not be able to hear. At all.
When you were nine, a doctor said rather coldly, "I guess you know you're
going to become deaf!"
I asked you how you felt about that, and you replied with your usual
philosophic perspective, "Well, we've always known it might happen one day,
Mom. So, if it does, it's for a reason." Then, lighting up with that
radiance for which you are famous, you added, "Maybe God just wants me be
teacher of deaf children!"
I wish I could be as practical as you. But why would He want me to be
the mother of a deaf child? I am certainly not qualified for such an
responsibility. Why, sometimes, I don't even like children!
You are much better prepared than I am. You have the patience I never
had. You glow with the inner assurance that you are capable of taking on
anything He has to offer. But, isn't this carrying things too far? Don't
ever feel the anger and frustration I sometimes feel?
I taught you to be awed when life got tough, as it reaffirmed you were
made of "special stuff." For God promised we wouldn't have to experience
than we could handle -- not just to endure life, but to experience it with
grace and dignity through His love.
When you were ten, I was told I had an incurable, disabling disease. A
week later, I sat with you in the emergency room, mechanically wondering if
the cleaners would be able to remove the car tracks from the back of your
coat, and marveling that your thermos did not break -- though half of your
lunch box was completely flattened.
A few days later, a nine-year-old boy and his grandmother were struck by
a car at a bus stop, just like you were. But they didn't live. You
still had things to do in this life.
Within a few weeks, we had an earthquake, a severe windstorm, our new car
was stolen, we were mistakenly told that your brother had leukemia, and you
had another operation.
"What now, God?" I found myself asking every morning. And the Lord always
answered, "I have plans for you. Trust Me, and I will guide you through."
So, that's what we did. Ken's hemorrhaging slowed and his blood was normal,
your hearing improved, we got our car back, and repaired the damage from
earthquake and wind.
And that's what we did again last year when the doctor said, "We've spent
twelve years trying to save Lori's hearing. Now she has a serious infection
next to her brain. It's time to admit that everything has been done that is
humanly possible. It's time that we stop the heroics and sacrifice her
to save her life."
Prayers were offered for you throughout our small farming community as
people prayed you wouldn't have to go through this. We enrolled the family
signing classes, and tried to prepare your brother for the changes in our
lives. But, it was the little things that were so painful.
You went through kindergarten without receiving one demerit, while others
collected them by the dozens. I told you that you would get one sooner or
later, so not to worry about it when you did. In the spring, I explained to
your teacher that you would have a problem hearing for a few days because
That afternoon you plopped down on the couch and said, "Well, Mom, I got
my first demerit today for "failure to pay attention."'
My first reaction was anger. How could that teacher be so insensitive?
Then, realizing the magnitude of that first demerit, you wiped your
and exclaimed, "Boy, I'm glad that's behind me!"
That was your last demerit for several years. But, being both hearing-
impaired and being an exceptionally good student, you were somewhat
with the finer points of disciplinary protocol.
Your teacher called me in shock. "Lori was put on detention for forging
her father's name on a homework notice. I just wanted to ask you not to
"You see, everyone gets demerits -- except for her. So, anyone else would
have been expelled. But, Lori sat right there in front of us and signed the
paper without even trying to disguise her handwriting. After we recovered
the shock, we asked her why she did it, explaining the seriousness of her
"Well, you said when I came in today, you wanted to see my father's name
on the line. So, I put it there -- and now, you're yelling!''
You were presented the Christian Character Award the next week -- the
highest award your school offered. "It must have already been at the
engraver's," your Dad and I laughed. But, we were so very proud.
And from the time you were a baby, you showed maturity and confidence in
front of a microphone, whether it was to give your testimony, sing a solo,
quote a scripture. Even so, you were so afraid you wouldn't do well on your
musical aptitude test -- especially since you had a problem hearing the
pitches. You didn't believe us when we said you had nothing to worry about.
In fact, you got one of only three perfect scores in the district --
immediately qualifying you for the School for the Performing Arts. So, I
guess that it is only natural that many people's reactions were like your
Dad's: What is the loss of her hearing going to do to her music?
Your brother, Ken, had a different perspective. "My teacher said I can
sing so good that she gave me the lead in the second grade musical," he
beamed. "But it's the day of Lori's operation," he added apologetically.
I assured him that we would have someone take pictures. And just to make
me feel better, he nodded his understanding. "Operations are more important
than plays," he reasoned, with all the maturity a disappointed
But the guilt continued, and we still wanted to know why. Since you had
your first operation at fifteen months, until your twentieth operation last
year, we have been wondering why. For better or worse, so have other
One misguided relative demanded to know what terrible sins we had
committed for God to allow you to go through all this suffering. Others
indicated that we must be extremely cruel parents -- some for getting too
medical care for you, and others, for not getting enough!
You had so much care that you were uninsurable before you were out of
diapers. We borrowed money in the middle of the night to take you to
rooms and to buy your medicine. We even put off expanding our family until
were assured your ear problems were under control. Yet, you were worth it!
We spent many hours crying silently in waiting rooms, while doctors
performed painful procedures between your screams. We paced for hundreds of
hours in strange hospitals all across the country, wondering what else we
could have done to spare you this pain. But it wasn't enough. Your
and autoimmune problems prevented long term effects. And now, nothing but
prayer could help.
I bent over to kiss you as they took you for what was supposed to have
been your last operation, a year ago. I whispered that I loved you, feeling
that those may be the last words you would ever hear me say.
When we returned to our seats to wait and pray, I glanced at the clock.
It was 1:00 -- time for Ken's play to begin. For a moment, I didn't want to
be a mother any more. I just wanted to be held. I wanted to be a child
and be cared for by my own parents, who had died long ago.
Then my Heavenly Father wrapped His loving arms around my breaking heart,
and said, "You are not alone, for I will never leave you. Know that I am
there also to comfort her and guide the surgeon's hands.
I was brought back to reality by the unexpected appearance of the surgeon.
My first reaction was panic; you were supposed to have been in for many
"I am happy to report that all is well. Despite what the X-rays revealed,
things were much better than we expected. We didn't do the radical
at all. She not only didn't lose her hearing, she may well hear better than
"I have never scheduled this operation in all my years of medical
practice," he added. "But, with Lori, it was so obvious! There was no
it had to be done." He shook his head in disbelief "I just don't
"We do," we explained in unison. "It is the answer to our prayer!"
I went to the chapel to thank God for our miracle. And, yes, I still
thank Him for it. However, several months ago -- when your doctor first
hinted that they might have to go ahead with the original surgery -- a
commented bitterly, "So much for the healing."
How can anyone say you weren't healed? I know we were healed, because
our hearts stopped aching so much, and we trusted God to supply answers to
questions we couldn't even put into words. How could anyone think that our
prayers weren't answered? Had we prayed that God's Will be done, or that
ears be restored? Besides, how many parents would give all they owned for
even one day of hearing for their child? And we had been granted one more
Although we continue to give thanks for this past year of sound,
realistically. we also continued to prepare you for what we perceive to be
reality: You will soon be completely deaf.
It began Easter morning with a trace of blood in your ear. Soon you were
in the emergency room. By week's end, it had been determined that your
was infected and a tumor was causing bleeding through your ear canal. This
time, there was no doubt. This time, both ears were involved. This time,
there would be silence.
The doctor will remove the inside tissue and the diseased part of the
skull. The ear canal will be opened up to allow for future treatments. The
final procedure -- a skin graft from your arm -- will close you ears
from your brother's Tarzan yells, your bridegroom's pledge of love and your
future children's laughter.
The doctor was very candid: "I want you to understand that what we do will
I remember when you heard your first clock tick, your first cat purr, your
first faucet drip. It was the same year your doctor allowed you to put your
head under water for the very first time. You were seven, and thought it
wonderful, all of these marvelous new discoveries! You even said, "My, what
loud yawn," when surgical packing was removed and you heard things you had
never before imagined. You grew up so fast, and missed so much.
We have a new swimming pool, and you had so many plans for it, and for
your future. We sent plane tickets to your grandmother last week for your
eighth grade graduation this month. She doesn't know it yet, but she'll be
here for your surgery.
Our signatures on the release form will guarantee that you will never
hear the giggles of your classmates when the teacher discovers a frog in
desk drawer. You will never again reminisce with me, while listening to old
recordings of our "Famous Talks." Nor will you hear that special young man
someday say, "I love you."
We've thought about this for years, but never really felt it. Perhaps our
original anger was directed more toward ourselves for not having enough
to help ease our suffering. But, the question remains: "Do we have the
to allow this? And, if so, who gave us that right?" We know one thing for
sure, though: without the surgery, you will die!
We gave you life once, and now, we are able to do it again. Like the first
time, it will not be easy, nor will it be painless. But, it will be worth
As parents, what a privilege to be able to give life the second time.
Maybe something good has already come from this, for I am beginning to
understand how our Father in heaven rejoices when one of His children
a second birth -- to live a renewed, whole life through the grace of our
Father. To chose life over death seems simplistic, at best. Yet, so few
chose to live. So, dare to rise to His expectations, and accept the
responsibility that goes along with eternal life and a close walk with the
The doctor was wrong about one thing, though -- This isn't forever. You
will have a new whole body someday, and you will once again be able to hear
your Heavenly Father welcomes you to eternity.
Thank you for allowing us to share this new life God has planned. For --
through the closing of your ears -- we can sense things we never even
before. He sends wonderful vibrations that we need neither ears, or eyes to
know. That will be the only sound we can continue to share together. It has
a name. It is called "Unconditional Love."
Although Lori's tumor was worse than expected, the graft used to close
the opening inside the canal had enough sensitivity to pick up some
Also, because the source of the problem was eliminated, they did not have
operate on the other ear. Although seriously hearing-impaired, she was able
to hear well enough to sustain her love of music.
Lori finished high school with dozens of honors for her scholastic and
volunteer activities, and was awarded both academic and music scholarships.
She graduated from college with a degree in Psychology, and minors in music
and religion. She and her husband are the parents of a beautiful daughter,
Nichole, to whom Lori writes letters. And, you just have to see them
and singing together to be reminded that, "Through Him, all things are