As we approach the end of 2019 and the start of 2020, it is a time of endings and new beginnings. The turn of a decade gives us the opportunity to reflect and remember where we have come from and look forward to the future and what it holds.
Personally, I am approaching the new year and new decade with mixed feelings; wanting to see the back of 2019 but not really wanting to, and wanting to start 2020 but at the same time dreading it. You see, I will be starting the year without my daughter.
Recently, my family experienced every special needs family’s worst nightmare – we lost our daughter, Charlotte, at the age of 10 due to complications related to her disability.
Like many special needs parents, we have had many close calls in the past through seizures and medical illnesses, and the harsh reality of disability has been confronting to say the least. But our daughter was a fighter – the cat with nine lives, and she used up every one of them with a fierce fighting attitude.
I share this deeply personal experience because as I approach my new beginning, it is important to reflect on the journey and what has made us what we are today and the legacy one person can leave behind.
‘A legacy is the story of some one’s life, the things they did, places they went, goals they accomplished, their failures, and more. Legacy is something that a person leaves behind to be remembered by.’
Ten years ago, I was that parent hearing those words from the paediatrician that would make my blood run cold and change my life forever. Like so many other parents that have experienced the same moment, that day is still so vivid in my mind.
Because of this turn of events, I was forced into a “club” that I hated and didn’t want to belong to. Little did I know that it would change my life’s journey and impact hundreds of thousands of people across the country in the years to come.
Raising a child with special needs was challenging, exhausting, frustrating but it also brought me some of the most memorable moments of my life; watching my daughter achieve what she was told she never would, reach new milestones and develop into one of the most endearing and loved young ladies within our community.
Source Kids was created because of my daughter for other parents and carers out there wanting more for their child living with a disability, for an audience that was hungry for information and advice to help them in their new world.
Because of my daughter, Source Kids has developed into a community that supports each other, shares advice, picks each other up when times are low, offers a shoulder to cry on when needed, laughs together when that is all you can do, and celebrates those moments of absolute joy when a child achieves something amazing.
Charlotte has impacted more people in her short ten years than many people will in their lifetime. She has left her mark on this earth in her legacy, Source Kids, which has reached millions of parents, carers and professionals since its inception five years ago. Through this she will continue to create change for future generations and ensure all kids with disability have the opportunity to live their best life.
I write this not as a call out for sympathy or pity. I write this to pay tribute to my daughter for the change that she has enabled. I write this for other parents who have endured, or will endure, the same heartbreak. I write this to tell every parent to squeeze their child with all their might whenever they can. I write this as a shout out to the Source Kids team that makes Source Kids what it is. And I write this to celebrate the community we have created.
The “club” that I initially despised has become my lifeline on more occasions than one, this “club” has become my closest friends, colleagues, supporters and my network. The members are my club for life, regardless of circumstance.
As we embark on a new decade, let’s not forget our journey, where we come from or what is important, but let’s also look forward to the new chapter of life that is about to unfold.
Much love, Emma