I first met him when Hannah and I picked him up from his speech therapy session. They were working on the sign language sign for "more" when we arrived. I instantly remembered when my niece, Alivia, learned that. She's now talking and doesn't use it anymore, but it instantly created a little familiar feeling. I have spent very little time with young children as they are developing up to this point in my life, but I'm amazed by her and by Thatcher. Thatcher is a different child with different challenges as I said. It is a much larger hurdle for him to learn to use that sign to communicate, but I've seen him use it and believe that he will continue to grow and learn more ways like that to communicate.
When we left that session, Thatcher was challenged by his Nanna and Hannah to walk on his own to the car. He would try to hold onto their hands or onto a wall but for most of the trek he held his own and walked completely independently. This too struck a common thread with me. I still remember learning to walk again. I remember the uncertainty and learning to trust my balance again. I remember the pain and the challenge of it. I imagine those feelings are very present for Thatcher as he strives to walk on his own each time.
The most memorable thing about my short time with Thatcher has been two other things though: his smile and his laughter. He can often have an expression that tells you very little about how he feels. When he does, it is very hard to gauge whether he is upset or content. Other times when he is certainly enjoying himself, he will crack a smile. Then there are the times that he is really enjoying himself and his unique laugh will come out. Both of these expressions of his joy are impactful. They are genuine.
This brings me to a point I suppose. It's a point I've learned but will never fully grasp. There is joy to be had in any situation and difficulty. If Thatcher can smile and laugh and play then so can I. I forget that sometimes. I can get overwhelmed with my situation or my pain or my challenges. They are things that distract me from joy and being joyful. They can distract me from living a life that recognizes joy where it can be found. Thatcher has reminded me in a big way with his struggles and joys that I need to face my own with a smile and joy.