At the beginning of this year Lucy came home and told me she wanted to do handbells.

She was so excited, and on the outside I matched her…yay, handbells are awesome!
But inside I was worried.  
The handbell choir is a small group of kids and you have to be pretty precise to ring those bells at the exact right time to make the music beautiful.  Plus you have to be able to see the music.  And music is getting smaller and smaller to Lucy.

But she signed right up for that early-morning-before-school handbell group just as her older sisters Claire and Grace did before her.  Here’s Claire back in her glory days so you can get the idea 🙂
I never know quite what to say to teachers in situations like this.  I kind of want Lucy to make her own way without preconceived notions but I also want to let teachers know that she struggles, especially with her sight.  

So I let the teacher know and crossed my fingers that somehow this would work out.  That that excitement could keep going with Lucy.  That she could expand the things she can do rather than having this be another thing she can’t.
About a week later I got a voicemail message from her teacher.  As soon as I saw it my heart dropped.
She was worried.  
Not only could Lucy not see the music very well….which I had checked before and figured that the highlights on the notes she was supposed to play would help…but Lucy lacked the coordination to ring that bell how she was supposed to.  She just didn’t know how to make it work.
I tried to keep my composure together.  I had anticipated this, but still it was tough to hear.  Lucy had been so excited and had claimed she was doing just fine.  I asked if I could come to the next class…so I could observe what was going on and also so I could understand better how to explain to Lucy this wasn’t going to work.
I went to class and within minutes I knew what the teacher said was right on.  Lucy couldn’t even put on the white gloves they wear by herself let alone see that music and ring that bell on time.  The teacher had tiny notes written up on the white board she kept referring to that I was sure there was no way Lucy could see, and the sheet music was across the table on the other side of the bells.

The teacher was awesome, as was her helper.  But Lucy was sure struggling.  

But as I looked at that tiny sheet music I remembered the wise advice from Annie in the comment section of this post back HERE (and it makes me tear up here as I write to even copy and paste this…man I am emotional!…THANK YOU ANNIE!):  
“Reach out to Lucy’s teacher of the visually impaired. She will have suggestions, especially as she knows the font size Lucy needs and the strategies that work best for Lucy. Also, ask the TVI to speak with the piano teacher directly. We love to help our students and are often willing to take a few minutes to talk with extracurricular instructors for our students.”

And I knew she was right.  Lucy’s vision teacher is exceptional.  She would know what to do.
And she did.  She offered to go right in there and observe to see what she could do.  I was out of town when she went in, but she texted me and told me she enlarged the music, helped place a music stand right next to Lucy, circled the notes she was supposed to play rather than having them highlighted (Lucy can’t see highlighter marks, I had forgotten that), and with those simple switches, she essentially gave Lucy the gift of being able to play handbells.
Man, I am sitting here in the library with tears welled up in my eyes I cannot help it.  I’m so grateful!
She told me she still needed help with the handbell ringing itself, but she totally knew when to do it.  So I went in to help with that, and her sweet handbell teacher worked with her before class.
I took some pictures of Lucy’s beautifully triumphant little face, how the music stand is situated that works for Lucy, and I also recorded the melodic tunes those kids are starting to produce, but then my phone went crazy and the Apple store gave me a new one and took my old one that held those precious things on it.  If I can restore I’ll come back and add them here, but just picture a joyous little face creating some pretty beautiful music.

She still needs work, but that girl can to it.  If she puts in a lot of practice.  Which she’s glowingly willing to do.

And if you could just see the confidence just oozing out of her maybe you’d cry right now too.  Because handbells may be a little thing for most kids.  But they’re a big deal for this girl of mine.  
And for her mother.
I don’t even know what to do with all the gratitude I have for these good teachers.  And for the good kids who help and shine without even being asked.  And for blog readers who kindly give me inspiration to help this girl of mine shine her own unique light.  
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


  1. ^ me too. I've been kinda teary already today for some issues my family and I are facing, but this was so touching. I love the good people of this world who help others.

  2. Thank you for your kind comments- this post was a bright spot in my day. So happy Lucy's TVI was able to jump right in and help Lucy and the teacher. Perkins School for the Blind has a wonderful handbell choir, so it is definitely an accessible activity!

    If you're interested, Erik Weihenmayer's talk at Boston College on Thursday night at 8pm EST will be live streamed. He is talking about his No Barriers approach to life, his blindness and faith.

  3. Thank you for this post. I am a teacher, and this post was a reminder to me to treat all of my students as individuals with specific needs and gifts. Prayers for your sweet and courageous daughter.

  4. "I never know quite what to say to teachers in situations like this. I kind of want Lucy to make her own way without preconceived notions but I also want to let teachers know that she struggles, especially with her sight. "

    I can relate to this, my son has special needs. It's hard to know how much they need to to know from parents and what can be expressed by the child. It's also hard when there may not be a private way to share with the coach, teacher, leader of the activity. How much history to unload with other ears able to hear it. I'm grateful though to be alive now and not two generations ago. I think it's easier on us and our kids than our grandparents and their kids.

  5. Oh beautiful! I have lots of feelings about the actual post but what I am left with is the final picture of a Lucy who is not a baby or small child any more. I guess it does relate to your post but that last picture emphasizes that Lucy is a big kid with a big heart who is working towards those teen years. That comes with big desires and feelings and as parents and people sometimes we forget to give them space to grow and work. You did a wonderful job listening to the spirit and your gut. Remembering fantastic advice you had been given. Allowing others to fill important roles when you weren't there to help her be strengthened and supported. This is wonderful. I'm rambling and not communicating well but as a mom of a special needs kid I see similarities to our journey and rejoice at this success.

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