When Rebeka first came to Austin, I was a nervous wreck for many reasons. Here was this little girl who I didn’t know, and I had no idea how to care for her. How much could she do on her own, and how much should we do for her? All we had seen were pictures.
I laugh at what she must have thought as we brushed her teeth for her and tried to put on her shoes (she had to show us how they tied when we couldn’t do it.) One thing I remember her doing is opening up the back door and going outside without a backward glance, lurching amazingly fast on the tops of her feet. I was so afraid she’d fall down the stairs or into a flowerbed from our high back porch! There were all sorts of things that could hurt her, but she loved to be outside and she was pretty accustomed to fending for herself.
A lot of that freedom and independent spirit was squelched the day she got her first cast, August 29, 2012. No longer could she beg someone to chase her, or stand at the kitchen sink to clean dishes (because that’s pretty fun), or waltz out the door to go where she wanted to go. She had to wait on someone to carry her, or scoot on her bottom to get there. She couldn’t open a door from the floor. She was stuck.
Ever heard of a “plasma car”?
It’s this great little car that is propelled by turning the steering wheel back and forth, and it is Rebeka’s newest favorite thing. My parents had one at their house, and over the Christmas break we commandeered it and brought it home. The plasma car means FREEDOM!!! She’s now transporting herself to the kitchen table or the laundry room or wherever else she wants to go. She just props her legs up and she’s off. She’s learned to maneuver it quite well, picking up speed to get over little bumps or “park” it on the rug. She can get herself on it from the floor by herself, or drop down onto it from the dinner table. I hadn’t realized how often I was asking her “Where do you want to sit and what do you want to do?” while I took care of laundry or dinner or some other chore. Now, I just put her on the car and she can go look out the window or find Clay’s knees to tickle or take Benji and Molly on a ride.
Rebeka has actually lived with restricted freedom for a long time. I often forget just how handicapped she is, because she’s compensated so well. It’s when something little happens, like I’m holding her and I hand her a chip to eat, but she can’t lift it to her mouth because her arm is dangling and she has to have a table or a knee or something she can use to get her arm to her mouth, that I’m reminded.
And so I am thrilled to see her regain some of her freedoms, the ones she had come to count on. Not only does she have wheels, Rebeka was also given a short leg cast last week. With a brace on the left, and a short leg on the right, she can bend both knees. She can walk upright with her walker. We are getting just a taste of what it will look like when she walks on the bottoms of both feet un aided. All that walking is helping get her legs in shape as well, strengthening bone and muscle. We’ve come up with a game: how fast can she walk the circuit from living room to front door, through laundry room, and back around? We keep her time sheet up on the fridge. I’m telling you, this girl loves a challenge.
With another surgery looming just around the corner, there is still much to celebrate. We did just that the other day, when a friend heated up her hot tub to take advantage of the rare evening when Rebeka is cast free (always the evenings before her next cast change).
And of course Rebeka loves to celebrate with her toes. She took advantage of an evening at home with Alayna to adorn her toes with some bright, festive colors.
That plasma car has got me thinking about freedom. Sometimes we take freedoms from ourselves. When we diet, or get up early to read scripture or pray, or when we have kids. Other times we have freedom taken from us, maybe from injury or age. I think either way, in the absence of freedom we have the opportunity to grow stronger. This is certainly true for Rebeka, and it’s also been true for us. It is good to sometimes let go of what we think we control, and let something better rise to the surface. And then when something like a plasma car comes along, we can be exceedingly grateful for our newfound freedom. I know the Davis family is all very grateful for Rebeka’s new wheels. I have just a word of advice for those visiting the Davis house these days: watch your toes.