When Zachary was born, we knew that he would be born with cleft lip and palate.  While we didn’t know the extent, we still were prepared for the worst case scenario.  Zachary could not have been anymore perfect.  He was beautiful in every sense of the word.  When the doctors eventually placed Zachary in my arms and I held my little boy, my entire world changed.  I knew then and there that I would do anything for him, I would make anything happen for him and I would take care of this sweet little spirit the Lord had given me to watch over.

My dad had come to the hospital not knowing that I was in active labor and he was in fact, the second person to hold Zachary.  Scott was the first and he took Zachary over to see his Grandpa.  This was my father’s first grandchild and he was immediately taken with Zachary.  At that time he said something that has stuck with me.  My dad said, “Zachary will always be able to see the true character of others because of everything he will experience in life.”

When you look at Zachary, he looks like any other kid on the playground at school.  However, he is far from it. Zachary has been through so much in his short time here on earth.  While other kids are able to play soccer and basketball, play trumpet or french horn, or even spend the day walking at Disneyland, Zachary does not have those same experiences.  Zachary’s summers consist of having and recovering from surgery, wondering how many weeks until he can swim, he selects instruments that are not played by the mouth, and he spends his day at Disneyland in a wheelchair because he tires too easily.

Making friends has not been easy for Zachary.  Many of the other kids make fun of how he walks, how his nose is slanted or how he talks.  We expected there to be bullying, we expected that it would be difficult.  Zachary has experienced bullying at school and church.  Yet, one thing remains: Zachary can see the true character in others.

Zachary has two (2) friends at school.  He absolutely loves going to school to be with these boys.  They play and even when Zachary runs slower, they wait for him, help him and are kind.  When we are walking home from school, Zachary and his friends are often waving to each other and planning to see each other the next day.  Zachary also has a great friend with a boy from church.  This young man came over during the summer and spent time with Zachary playing video games.  They were able to keep each other company, allowing Zachary time to recover.  This little guy said to me, “I don’t care what Zachary looks like or how he walks.  He’s a cool friend.”

You may be feeling bad that Zachary doesn’t have a best friend, but he does.  He has a few.  His no. 1 bestie:  his dad.  Those two are amazing to watch together.  Scott serves his sweet son and the love is bountiful.  His no. 2: his little sister Faith.  Faith is his biggest advocate at school and can often be found defending her brother to others.  Yes, they fight, but the love between these two is incredible.

While Zachary doesn’t have a large circle of friends, he does know this: his friends are real. They are genuine.  They are his biggest cheerleaders.  It made me stop and reflect upon my own relationships with people.  Am I friends with people who are fake? Who are only talk? or people who love me regardless of whether I’ve gained 10 lbs. or lost 10 lbs.? Am I being a genuine friend or am I one who gives lip service? How can I be someone’s cheerleader and make their world better?

Lesson learned:  always, always be genuine.  Surround yourself with others who are genuine.

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“We’ll be Forever Friends won’t we Pooh?” asked Piglet.

“Even longer,” answered Pooh.

picture from wondersofdisney.yolasite.com