Parenting Special Needs Child Inspires Writing of Literary Treasures

Editor’s Note: Perhaps you’ve had the good fortune of reading The Lily Trilogy and are already in love with Sherry Boas and her inspirational and compelling brand of fiction. If not, I hope today’s guest column by Sherry will help you discover her work and share it with your loved ones. I thank Sherry for offering this wonderful reflection today and for choosing to be such an advocate for life and love with her writing. LMH

I don’t know about you, but there are a number of things I never could have predicted about motherhood.

Now, I had read Erma Bombeck, so I was not surprised by the mysteriously missing sock mates and the curiously inexhaustible fertility of dust bunnies.

But I could never have predicted I would ever have to touch a cockroach, much less remove it from another person’s mouth. I could never have predicted I would ever say I’m not going to say it again! and then proceed to say it again. I could never have predicted the raw and non-negotiable power of love that would drive my existence from the moment I gazed into the round, soulful eyes of my first baby.

I certainly never imagined I would become the mother of a child with special needs. And even after we adopted her, I never imagined the ways in which that would change things. Change everything.

When Phil and I adopted that doll-faced baby girl conceived in rape and born with Down Syndrome, I never imagined that the love that would grow between us would launch a literary career. That I would be so inspired by the child whom the world deems imperfect and unnecessary that I would conceive a plot for a series of highly-acclaimed novels called The Lily Trilogy.

I had been a reporter for a daily newspaper for ten years before becoming a stay-at-home mom. I had dabbled in writing fiction in my youth, before I had children, but I didn’t have the material. I didn’t have the inspiration. You write what you know. And I didn’t know a whole lot back then. Not about the things that matter anyway.

For me, the knowing began with a phone call from the adoption counselor about a newborn baby girl exposed in utero to crack cocaine, alcohol and cigarettes. That was thirteen years ago. That thirteen years brought us three other adopted children, including one who has Down syndrome and our youngest, who was born fifteen weeks premature at only a pound and a half. He is now six years. All of our children, thanks be to God and His boundless mercy, are thriving.

As I said, I had always entertained the idea of writing fiction, even from the time I was a kid. I got a journalism degree and went into newspapers to pay the bills. I had an exciting, fast-paced, fulfilling career, but not the kind you can easily balance with family life. So I dropped it to embrace my new vocation of motherhood. I never looked back. Not even once. Motherhood offers what a worldly career cannot. It offers a glimpse into the vast love of God embodied in the face of another person for whom you would happily give your very last drop of blood.

My life was completely complete. I was a home-schooling mom of four amazing young children. I never thought I’d write again. But one day, a story flew into my head as I was tucking in my daughter Teresa, who has Down syndrome. It was a story I had to write for a number of reasons. First, a writer cannot leave a good story unwritten. Second, ninety percent of people with Down syndrome, diagnosed in utero, are aborted. So the question arises: What are we missing because these people  – and all the other people who have been aborted — are not among us?  The Lily Trilogy sets out to answer that question in a subtle, entertaining, humorous and sometimes heart-wrenching way. The books, Until Lily, Wherever Lily Goes and Life Entwined with Lily’s, are based around a character with Down Syndrome. But they are not about her. They are about you and me.

I draw virtually all my material for my books from everyday family life. I find it a rich reflection of the beauty of God’s kingdom. It’s a place of mercy, forgiveness, unconditional love, breaking down our selfishness and helping each member fulfill their calling and ultimately get to Heaven. And it’s a place where ridiculous and challenging things happen that present opportunities to either laugh or cry — and sometimes both at the same time.

The Lily Trilogy does not preach. But it does proclaim. It proclaims hope and mercy – heavenly commodities sorely needed in our times. The problems our world faces today are caused by fear. Love and fear cannot co-exist. Where there is love, fear flees. Children are aborted because someone is afraid, and that is especially true for children with prenatal diagnoses like Down syndrome. Parents fear the child will not have a good life or life will just be too hard. What they fail to see is the unpredictable. What they fail to see is the love — the love they are missing if that child doesn’t make it into the world.

My children are among the fortunate ones because abortion did not claim them. I never want to forget how fortunate I am to have them. How fortunate the world is. Not only does Teresa have Down syndrome, but she was conceived in rape. Her chances of making it into the world were very slim. Her birth mother acted out of love, not fear, and so the rest of us get to benefit from Teresa’s very rare brand of love. To have Down syndrome is to understand certain things about life that most people don’t. Hopefully, through Lily, readers will come to understand these things too.

Sherry Boas is author of Until Lily, Wherever Lily Goes, Life Entwined with Lily’s, A Mother’s Bouquet: Rosary Meditations for Moms and a soon-to-be released novel called Wing Tip. She can be reached at Sherry@LilyTrilogy.com. More information at www.LilyTrilogy.com

Copyright 2012 Sherry Boas

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