Look At This…

How do you show a two-year old  everything she will miss for the rest of her life?

In the middle of all that was going on in our lives, we welcomed Bill’s daughter, Katie, into our home to live with us. As she was moving in, Shantel saw a little green and yellow stuffed rabbit among Katie’s things. Shantel asked if she could play with it and Katie told her she could have it. Shantel was delighted and named him Velveteen, after the story, The Velveteen Rabbit. We didn’t know then what an important role Velveteen would play in our lives or how treasured he would become.

Shantel’s surgery was scheduled for December 11th, 1995. Bill and I arranged to have Christmas the first week of December so Shantel could see the presents “Santa” would bring. We gathered family and friends and everyone helped make it as nice as it could be under the circumstances. Shantel was excited, but she was too young to understand what was about to happen.

In the days that followed, Bill and I drove Shantel all over town trying to show her the pretty lights and holiday sights, until we finally decided she most likely wasn’t even going to remember any of it because she was just too young.

As the time for the surgery grew nearer, we became more and more distraught. Nerves were raw and emotions were out of control. Prayers were endless begging God to please let a miracle happen that would save Shantel’s sight.  There was never a moment when we were not totally consumed by the circumstances we found ourselves in. And now, it is the night before the surgery that will leave our precious little Shantel blind for life. How do I explain to her that when she wakes up tomorrow after surgery, it will be dark and she will not be able to see us ever again?

The next morning, I found the answer. Shantel slept with her rabbit, Velveteen, every night. When I went into her room to wake her up to go to the hospital for her surgery, Velveteen was laying beside her, and one of his eyes was out. Bill and I looked everywhere but we couldn’t find Velveteen’s eye. Then it hit me, that this would be how I would explain to Shantel about what was about to happen to her. I asked Bill to take out Velveteen’s other eye and he did.

I woke Shantel up and explained to her that Velveteen’s eyes were very sick and they were making him very sick as well. I told her that the only way to help Velveteen get well was to remove his eyes and that would allow his body to get well again. I explained to her that if Velveteen’s eyes were not removed, he might die, and we wouldn’t have him with us anymore.  I showed her where Velveteen’s eyes had been and we talked about how he was still the same rabbit and that we still loved him and how we would teach Velveteen how to get around without his eyes. Shantel agreed that we do still love Velveteen, and that we would always love him no matter what.

I held Shantel close to me and explained to her that her remaining eye was sick like Velveteen’s eyes, and that the doctor would have to take it out just like Velveteen so it wouldn’t make the rest of her body sick. I told her that we love her more than anything in the world, and that we would help her learn how to get around without her eyes, just like Velveteen. I told her to close her eyes and let it be dark, and that when she woke up from the surgery, that is how it is going to be. I told her she wouldn’t be able to see us, but that she would hear us and know that we will always be there with her. I promised her I would never leave her and through my tears I accepted what I could not change. Shantel also accepted this with a trust beyond her two and a half years of life. Then, we left to go to the hospital.

As heartbreaking and soul piercing as all this was, the rainbow did come out after the storm.

Stay tuned to see how Shantel taught us how to cope!

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gotham Girl
    Feb 13, 2012 @ 23:03:36

    No matter how many times I hear this…tears always come. Love you all!


  2. Gotham Girl
    Feb 13, 2012 @ 23:04:44

    Oh, does Velveteen still exist? I so hope so!


  3. Gotham Girl
    Feb 13, 2012 @ 23:39:52

    Thank God. I’d forgotten about Velveteen so I’m thrilled to know V still exists!! I must photograph V!!!


  4. Ellen Kaufman
    Feb 14, 2012 @ 01:11:55

    That was a beautiful story about the Velveteen rabbit and in a way that brought hope and understanding in Shantel’s world of a 21/2 yr. old little girl. Our hearts went out to you and Bill, your Mom and Dad as to the marvelous way you handled it. You guys gave her strength and courage and such love and kindness. When Dee and Bob were in Phoenix for a visit with your Mom and Dad and came home and told us about when Dee, being a Ped. Nurse saw the spot in her eye, she knew it was something very serious. We were so devasted. We prayed for Shantel for a miracle, but God knew you and the rest of the family were going to be able to bear this cross with the strength, grace and love you guys gave her is just one of the reasons she is the young lady she is today. I will not say anymore as there is much more to come and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the story.


    • beyondcinderella
      Feb 14, 2012 @ 01:47:16

      Thank you so much for responding on my blog. It means so much to me that you are following our story. My hope and desire is that I might be able to help someone else who might be facing a difficult situation and that perhaps our story will give them hope, encouragement, and the will to go on.


  5. Megs
    Feb 14, 2012 @ 15:56:54

    Continued crying!!!!! Love you all!


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