Thursday, August 20, 2009


Submitted by Michelle
It was the first day of school in September of 2006, and as I eagerly greeted my new students on their first day of kindergarten, I was quite shocked and surprised when this little bundle of cuteness came, quite literally, rolling into my classroom. I had no idea a handicapped child was in my class and I had no idea the profound impact she would have on my life.
Celeste, first day of kindergarten
Prior to Celeste coming to kindergarten I found out I was in early menopause and the chances of me conceiving a child were slim to none. I thought I had worked through all the sadness but in the fall of 2006 other traumatic life events occurred and I became deeply depressed. If it weren't for Celeste, I probably would have stopped working all together.

Celeste loved school from the start (and I think I loved her from the start too) but she did not like strangers so no matter how I was feeling each day, I knew I had to get out of bed and go to work so she wouldn't have to deal with a substitute teacher. If she could deal with all her disabilities without a single complaint the least I could do was get moving each morning and teach my kinder kids.
Celeste, Halloween 2006
As the school year progressed I learned all about Celeste's handicaps - hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy and scoliosis. I also learned that in her 5 short years of life she had endured 10 surgeries and kindergarten was the first year without any surgeries or major illness.
Dad, Celeste & Mom, Family Lunch, 2007
Celeste and I started hanging out on the weekends. She would come to visit me and we would sing, cook together, watch Food Network, go swimming or play games. I taught her to be a Mac-loving computer whiz and she taught me that though I was not going to have a child of my own, there are plenty of children in my life who need a mother-like figure. Celeste's parents have always been so generous about loaning her to me and David on a regular basis.
Celeste 2007
During Celeste's first grade school year she had a major surgery on her hip and knee. She was out of school for over a month and I was lucky enough to be her home teacher. She pulled through like a trooper and was able to start taking steps at physical therapy.
It was also during her first grade year that Celeste's doctors began focusing on the severity of her scoliosis and decided that body casting would be the first option in order to correct her curvature of the spine. David and I took Celeste on her first trip to Disneyland before her cast was put on. Again, her parents were SO nice to let us take her and we had a fantastic time. Like most little girls, Celeste enjoyed meeting all the Disney princesses.
Me & Celeste
Celeste and Belle
Celeste has worn a body cast for the last 18 months. About every 3 months her doctor changes the cast and she has had to endure not being able to go swimming or take a bath or basically getting wet. Throughout this time Celeste and I have continued our friendship and I started her education in musical theatre. Several times we have gone with Linda and one of her former students, Danielle, to see shows at Azusa Pacific University. We always get great front row seats because Linda's husband works at APU and sometimes we even know a cast member. Linda's niece Katie was in the production of The Music Man.
Danielle, Celeste and Katie, post-performance at the Music Man
Last Spring Celeste's doctor determined that the casting was not working and the next step would be for her to have dual growth rods inserted into her back. Last week Celeste had her pre-operation appointment and her doctor took off her body cast!!! Since then we have been getting in lots of swimming and she even went on a family trip to the lake.
Celeste in the pool, August 2009
Tomorrow Celeste will go into the hospital for her spine surgery. If all goes well, the doctor will be able to immediately correct her curvature by approximately 40%. Once the growth rods are in, her spine can continue to grow while it is being straightened.

Celeste came over to cook dinner with me last night and we made roasted tomato sauce to go over pasta. We also talked about her surgery. I think I am more nervous about the surgery than Celeste. I hope the procedure goes smoothly and that she isn't scared prior to the surgery or in pain afterwards.
Celeste peeling garlic
Mixing everything with the food processor.
Over 3 years our lives have been woven together in the most unlikely way and because of the most unlikely of circumstances. I feel so blessed that Celeste came along at a time in my life when I needed her most and I am glad I can be with her not only during good times but when she really needs me the most.

I'll keep you posted on Celeste's progress and if you would keep her in your thoughts and prayers I'd appreciate it.

Celeste & Me, August 2009


~ Lucy said...

Great post Michelle. Celeste will definitely be in my thoughts and prayers. I'll see you tomorrow!

Denise Hughes said...

This is one of the most beautiful blog posts I have ever read.

kate wallace said...

I am so honored to be in this post :) Celeste is a wonderful girl! Thank you Michelle :)