This Is What I Know

Elaine Sheff Special Needs

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This is what I know: there are so many heart-rending and devastating things about having a sick child – I mean a child who is REALLY sick. I don’t seem to be able to get beyond it. From day to day, my heart is broken. I can’t sleep. Many times I feel like I can barely breathe. I literally feel a heavy weight in my heart. I can’t seem to work–to do anything that seems normal, really. What is the point of returning phone calls or cleaning the bathroom, for instance?

And yet I have had an opportunity few have had. I know several things, intimately, that many people have had not had the opportunity, time, nor inclination to explore.

Firstly, I know what it is to NEED, and to RECEIVE. I know what it is to ask, and to be answered. To be answered in the most heart-touching and generous ways. I know what it is to be answered beyond hope or expectation. For instance, days after people knew my son was sick again; we had five offers of fund-raisers. More followed. At work the other day, a card arrived via a small and very polite boy. Inside was $600: no signatures, no names. It is humbling to know I could walk down the street and never know I have unknowingly passed these astounding and generous people.

I am not sure how to hold all of that generosity and goodness. Some of the people who have helped us are our neighbors, family, or friends. Some people we have never even met. Often, this generosity feels beyond my comprehension, not because I haven’t done it myself – I have. Mostly it is because people are doing it for US. Believe me, it is totally different to receive that kind of kindness.

I have had the unique opportunity to witness, from near and far, the true goodness of my fellow human beings. I mean THE BEST of many people that I know, and so many that I don’t know. In these recent times when we question our innate worth as a species, I have had the unique and wonder-filled opportunity to see the very best in people. It is an honor. It is a shining example of what we, as human beings, can offer each other in our hardest of times. This gives me hope. It gives me hope beyond all of the terrible things that we, as a species, have done to each other.

This is what I know: We Are Good. Good beyond belief. We are good beyond what any one of us does when someone else is watching. I have seen it, time, and time again. This is my terrible blessing that I have the opportunity to experience through having a child that is so very sick. I get to see both dichotomies: the devastating pain and the miraculous beauty of the human spirit.

I wish I had never come to this place, and yet, I am awed, humbled, and blessed to be where I am. It has been my greatest lesson.



About the Author

Elaine Sheff

The author of five books on herbal medicine and healing, clinical herbalist Elaine Sheff has been passionate about sharing herbal knowledge for over 25 years. She is the Co-Director of , where she strives to inspire and empower students and clients to remember their connection to the earth, the plants and their own healing process. As a certified Instructor of the Natural Family Planning and Fertility Awareness Methods, Elaine has helped many couples to avoid or achieve pregnancy naturally. An artist and writer, Elaine has written numerous articles about her family’s journey with epilepsy and a special needs child. You can often find her bent over an herb in her garden or marveling at small flowers in mountain meadows with her husband and sons.

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