Posted by: debstake | July 11, 2009

The Third Hero and Teacher

Sam (L), Kayla (M) and Me (R) in black and white  dtd 02JUN09 2 pic

Kayla came into our families life via Samantha six years ago. She is the best friend and best influence for Samantha. In the process of developing a friendship it has evolved into a sisterhood. JR was starting his first year at Vista and was very severely autistic. Samantha was dealing with a load no child of the tender age of 9 should ever have to endure. Our lives were in shambles then; at least mine was. We were hedging out bets on the Vista placement and of course as I have said in previous posts the gamble has paid off.

This blog isn’t about JR though; it is about the ability that Kayla has for love, acceptance and compassion. She is member of our family because she loves us; warts and all. Her compassion stems I believe from her own personal turmoil. At the age of 11 she lost her innocence against her will being raped by a trusted friend of the families. Being thirteen (it took 2 years to get to any form of justice) and going to court to face the demon, she couldn’t find that strength to face him in front of twenty or so strangers in a courtroom. He got off with a misdemenor and community service. His payback will come at a later date. She lost her father against her wishes and to his heroic battle with cancer. We didn’t know her then but I know these two events began a domino effect for the rest of life to date. Her mother and I became fast friends too because of the relationship that was being forged between Kayla and Sam. Norma Jean, Kayla’s mom and one of my dearest friends had a relationship with her daughter that at the time I was so jealous of. But by watching them I learned how to be a better mother and better friend to my own children. At least I think I have. Another “benefit” that came from my relationship with Norma Jean is the discovery that Kayla’s older brother David has asperger syndrome and is able to understand why he is different from most of his peers.

So the relationship Kayla had with her mother may not have lasted as long as it should have for Norma also passed over to the better side two years ago.   however, it was more full filling then a lot of mother-daughter relationships that last far longer. I believe one of the things that made their relationship so strong is the strife that they both endured while together. In addition to the lose of both her parents, Kayla was diagnosed with systemic lupus at the age of 16. She’s now 20 and has endured more physical pain then anyone else I have ever known. While Norma was getting her chemotherapy treatments for cancer, Kayla was getting chemotherapy treatments for lupus as well. They traveled every hardship hand in hand. And yet Kayla remains strong in her faith. She believes her parents are in a better place and that she will be with them and her love again. Yeah, just recently Kayla’s boyfriend has passed over to the better side as well.

So with everything this young woman has endured I have learned that in comparison my life is a tad bit easier. Because of Kayla it is easier. Life isn’t always fair and innocent people do suffer in this plain. Those are facts that can not be changed. What can be changed is what we do with this knowledge and how we learn from it.



  1. blessings to you for writting a post on this.

  2. Very touching post. I agree with you totally. On another aspect, my take is that asperger’s syndrome during the early stages should be attended and no parent should ever forget that.

  3. We adopted three boys with various forms of autism and appreciate those who would blog on such an important subject. People more than ever need to be informed about autism and what life is like for those so affected since this debilitating condition seems to be on the rise.

  4. I absolutely believe that Kayla is the strongest person I know. She has overcome so many things and I am thankful to have her as a friend. I may not see her due to our paths going into two different directions but I promise you that I think of Kayla frequently and admire her so much! I have learned a lot from her and I know that God is with her because she is an ANGEL 0:) I love you Kayla!

  5. Thanks mom! I really did cry when I first read this and am so thankful to have you and our entire family in this journey. I couldn’t have made it without all of you. xoxo

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