She's more than just a beautiful wife and mother. There's more than meets the eye with her. Debra has worked in pediatrics for most of her adult life. The thing is, she has always done what most people don't have the strength, courage or the patience to do.
As a Child Life Specialist she has held the hands of babies who had to undergo surgery or transplants, massaged the tiny feet of toddlers who were unable to walk as they were going through chemo treatments, and counseled or educated the families who were also going through these challenging times or suffering the loss of a child. The home care she provided for these children and their whole families was her most fulfilling and rewarding work. So when she became a mother and had to step back from her career to help her own children, who she had found to have some special needs of their own, it was the ultimate test of her skills and patience. With her background, she thought she knew what she was doing and could BE everything and DO everything as she was devoted to their health and wellness. It turns out, this would be her hardest job to date and often times she would feel defeated. The thing is, this was just a small part of her journey and she was too tenacious to give up!
Over the last six years she has been an advocate for her kids and worked with countless therapists, health care providers and teachers to help her own babies develop and grow to be the best individuals they can be. She realized that she couldn't do it alone, and that sometimes it takes a village. Her babies have now grown into these empowered and totally capable kids, who remind her that she needs to celebrate the journey on a daily basis and also that it's OK to let go.
What I admired about Debra was this willingness to let go. To let go of the idea of perfection because it doesn't exist. To let go of the idea that she was super-woman. To let go of what others would say and to trust her instincts. She has learned to embrace the imperfections, to ask for help when she needs it most, and to acknowledge that her sacrifices mattered and that she has a true gift. Not many people are given a sense of purpose at a young age, and hers has always been to speak up and be an advocate for children while also helping them be their strongest and best selves. Seriously, how lucky are her own kids?!
Debra and her family's spirited side is evident when you look at what became of these photos. The tackling and running and tickling of family members, the laughter and the hugs. That is their life. It is crazy and messy and imperfectly perfect. It's the life that she has built with her whole heart. She knows fully well, that these are the times that she will look back on one day (with long exhales, many chuckles and a few tears).
At this stage of her life and now that her family is thriving, she can dream about what lies ahead and continue to follow her passion to help other children and families. Debra's infectious laughter and her fearless nature are what brought us together. I am a better person for having known her, and I'm pretty sure that if all of the children (including her own) or families that she has ever helped could thank her right now they would say something like this...
You are an incredible woman. What you said and what you did made all of the difference. Thank you for holding my hand, for laughing and crying with me, for cuddling me when I was hurting or feeling sick, for being patient with me when I couldn't do something, for making us feel like we weren't alone, for being there when we were scared, for loving me when I needed it most. Your strength, your knowledge and your compassionate heart were valued and will never be forgotten.