“And He Will Raise You Up on Eagles Wings”

“And He Will Raise You Up on Eagles Wings”

Sean2by Annette Porter

“And He Will Raise You Up on Eagles Wings”

The Eagle who soars in the sun. The white tipped wings do not move but nevertheless, there is joy in the eagle as it dips up and down to it’s highest height.

Sean, himself, chose for his funeral the song “He Will Raise You Up on Eagles Wings”. He was so much like the eagle. While his “wings” did not move, his life was filled with the fullness of the spirit of unconditional love for others. He spoke with his eyes, his head, and his computer, words of comfort and love. Things of this world, like Sean’s handicapping conditions, will try to steal a person’s effectiveness. But Sean did not allow this to happen to him. The joy in Sean’s spirit was evident to all despite the circumstances that surrounded his life. He saw purpose in this world, and his place in it.

Sean’s Christianity was always a big part of his life. I can remember attending Sean’s Confirmation in the Catholic Church. Going to church was very important to Sean, and he quickly developed close relationships with many of the priests. One of Sean’s lifelong desires was to become a priest himself. While he knew this was not possible, he did know that he was able to pray for many people, and did so.

I met Sean when he was ten or eleven years old when the Wawrzaszek’s asked for some respite help at home, and I was asked if I was available. I was immediately struck by what an accepting family they were, full of laughter and stories to tell. Not only did I give the family a break while Sean and I had some fun on our own, but they also accepted me as part of their family. Many a night I was invited to join them for dinner. I was included when they took Sean to Tufts University for his evaluation to see his capabilities for learning to use an electronic language system. Up to this time, he used a single piece of cardboard with colored columns, rows, and quadrants where someone would point across each column until he turned his head for “yes” and then the process was repeated going down the rows. A long and laborious process as was the asking “if it was a person, place, or thing?”, getting his “yes-no” response, and then going through the alphabet letter by letter until he turned his head for “yes.”

Sean and I were famous for doing wild and crazy things and we sometimes included his sister, Siobhan (whom he adored!). One winter, the whole family went to New Hampshire to go skiing. Since I did not ski, it was perfect that Sean and I would explore the village. We decided that we would “go sled-skiing” in our own way. Out we went onto the snow packed drive. I would take off running, pushing Sean in his wheelchair, and then suddenly stop. We both went sliding until the snow slowed us down to a standstill. We both were hooting and having a grand time. Time in the resort was spent in the sauna and hot tub. I had never had an amaretto milkshake, so Steve (Sean’s dad) fixed one for me which was shared with Sean who was all smiles. Sean was always a part of it all, and big smiles were always a part of him.

Another time, a personal friend of mine, Siobhan, another young man with a handicap, and Sean all spent the night in my apartment in Manassas. We decided to go to a nearby lake where we rented a row boat. Life jackets for all, we all maneuvered into the rowboat and off we went. What fun we all had! Sean was all smiles as Siobhan cradled his head and shoulders in her lap.

As years went by and I continued my schooling, got married, and had three sons, my connections with the Wawrzaszek’s slowed. We stayed in touch at Christmas time, but it wasn’t until I received a newsletter from Merica House announcing the Christmas Open House that I decided to go check this place out. Lo and behold, when I arrived at the house, there was Sean. I sneaked up behind him and greeted him. He burst into all smiles and quickly typed on his computer “Hello Annette”. How could either of us have forgotten each other. I became a volunteer at Merica House and relationships with Sean took off where they had been years ago. Now there were new friends too. Sean had lots of attention at Merica House from Dee, Maureen, Cathy, Sharita, Matt, and LaRue, and it was not unusual for several of us to do things together in groups. Going to church together, sometimes as many as four of us , became a ritual, where all of them were greeted with care and love by the choir members and congregation at Queen of Apostles Catholic Church. Both Queen of Apostles and St. Anthony’s on Rte 7 made accommodations to include Sean in the mass by sanctifying a small syringe of wine that was given to Sean during communion.

As the next Christmas and last springtime approached, Sean was in and out of the hospital alot for different reasons. I was with him for most of those occasions and sometimes my son Ben. We had many discussions about everything under the sun. One of his biggest desires and joys in his life was to go to his camp in Martha’s Vineyard each year. While it was iffy if he would be able to go this past June, he was released by the doctor to go. He had the best two weeks of his life there and remarked to many upon his return that “He’d had a blast!” It was shortly after that, that Sean was back in the hospital. I had the “sweet but sad” joy to be able to hold him, pray with him, and sing to him as he took his last breaths. He was surrounded by love of a close friend, my son Ben, his mother, and Siobhan and Hans, as they walked into the room.

Besides all the precious memories I will hold in my heart for Sean, I think that every time I remember Sean’s big smile, the words “Thank you” and “I’m Sorry,” I will always think of Sean and the impact he had on the lives of so many and the love and kindness he shared with so many despite his circumstances. He now soars like an eagle as his wings are lifted high.

God Bless You my Friend.
Love You,
Annette Porter

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