How do I teach friendship to my sweet girl that has no words? She is nonverbal and pretty blasé when it comes to her classmates. I cringe when her classmates’ parents tell me, “My daughter was so excited to see Piper. She kept saying her name over and over!” I want to say that Piper reciprocates. However, my sweet girl loves to watch and hear others but does not truly interact. I wish, pray, for the day that Piper will hug a friend without prompting or use her communication device to ask a classmate to hang out. I want her to have her bucket filled by being loved and being a friend to others. Her classmates get invited to birthday parties and go to father daughter dances. Piper would probably walk into one and then walk right back out. These events do not seem to matter to her. My heart aches that we do not even have even this fraction of normal, but I have to be grateful that she is not aware of “missing out”.
My husband sent me a text the other day telling me I should blog about Piper and her sweet ducky. He said I should share the story of Piper’s love for her stuffed duck. In an ambiguous manner, she demonstrates that real friendships last forever. It does not matter what your friend looks like, or what their limitations they have, because a true friend sees what is on the inside.
Now onto the tale of Piper’s sweet ducky. He was actually her brother’s Easter present. Piper received a bunny with an Easter egg body and her brother a duck with the same. She decided she wanted his duck, and they became inseparable from that day. This was over ten years ago! About a month into her “friendship”, ducky lost a wing. I am not sure where the wing went, but he was still able to perform his friendly duties without it. So, Piper’s sweet brother took a piece of plaid fabric and learned how to sew, so he could give ducky a new wing. My heart melted at his empathy and love for his sister.
Ducky’s wing lasted a few years, but his bill bit the dust quickly. Piper liked to chew on his duck bill and eventually chewed it off! My sweet mom made a new one out of a yellow washcloth and sewed it on. Well, next ducky’s head needed to be replaced, and sweet grandma made a new head for him with thread eyes that Piper would not choke on. Ducky’s body part replacements continued regularly.
I dreaded the day the ducky would disintegrate or be lost, so scoured eBay often to find a backup. One day, I hit the jackpot and found a replacement ducky! Piper was not sure about the new duck and tentatively split time loving them both. Then, it was apparent that new ducky could not replace her tried and true friend.
Last summer, we went on our first plane trip in 10 years to visit family in Washington for our niece’s wedding. Piper became ill and ended in the ER while there. Her ducky was the only source of comfort she accepted during this time. He was there beside her with a rotting head and only one wing. My sister in law was an angel and made a new head and wing for Ducky. These pictures say it all…
A friend is there for you no matter what state they are in, how they look, or how capable they are of loving you. Ducky brings Piper joy. She cradles him in her arms, brings him lovingly to her face, and pats him just like we patted her in the NICU. He is not pretty and kind of smelly, but Ducky is Piper’s friend. He is there when she needs him. He snuggles her every night. He can make her smile when she is sick and goes into surgery with her when needed.
I worry that one day this ducky will bite the dust, and I will have to persuade Piper to love the “pretty new one”. However, my heart is full that she shows love towards something. She is teaching me that I need to be okay with no pictures of dances with beautiful dresses or achievement bragging on Instagram. My girl knows how to love, she knows how to be a friend, and I will gladly care for her until the day I die.