The Gift in Disguise This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Rolling into our lives like a gentle breeze tickling our cheeks, she made our lives more worthwhile since that day she was born.

Lauren Glenn Allison was born in Oklahoma City late one night in July. Her family was on their way to her grandmother’s house when Aunt Lenore went into labor. Since she was not due for three months, Uncle Jeff, scared to death, drove her to the nearest hospital, where she gave birth. Weighing only three pounds, Lauren could easily fit into his hand. She was born with a problem. Apparently the umbilical cord had wrapped around her neck, which momentarily blocked the oxygen to her brain. That moment was just enough to give Lauren cerebral palsy.

I remember Nana and Papa rushing to Oklahoma to be with them all. They were distraught beyond belief. Aunt Lenore was a healthy woman, in her second pregnancy, and taking proper precautions. How could this have happened? Lauren was paralyzed from the waist down.

I remember going to the hospital and seeing her small body lying in a tiny bed. She was surrounded by blinking machines. She was so small, smaller than anything I had ever seen. I remember Aunt Lenore having huge bags underneath her eyes and Uncle Jeff’s failure to be funny. He usually greets me with a noogie (he puts my head under his armpit and rubs his knuckles across the top of my head – hard). This time he just said hello.

A year later I spent Christmas at their house. Lauren was still hooked up to machines and I could hear her crying of night. She was so uncomfortable and couldn’t do a thing for herself. I felt bad for her family; they didn’t deserve this.

Then all those feelings changed. Now Lauren is the axle of our world. She happens to be one of the smartest kids I know. Lauren can remember things from years ago. Right now she probably speaks more Spanish than me, and I will graduate from high school soon! Lauren began in a manual wheelchair, which meant someone had to push her. But she progressed and was rewarded with a motorized wheelchair. Now we call her a terror on wheels. She can flat move that thing!

There is something about Lauren that simply captivates you and keeps you transfixed. She can take something terrible and make it great. Lauren seems happy even though she has many restrictions. She can take your worst day and make it into your best, just by being her happy self.

I spent a week with her family one summer. It was fun, and a learning experience. I saw how hard it is to live with a person with a disability; it’s a full-time job. But I also saw the bond Aunt Lenore and Lauren have, and how happy she makes my uncle. She is a remarkable girl with a lot of love to share. Instead of Lauren being bitter, she makes the best of her abilities. She has shown others hope.

This small child has undergone multiple surgeries, yet she still wears a smile. Her thin frame is covered with scars, though she feels little pain. Her heart is one of a champion. She took one small, rural school that was not keen about her attending, and has completely changed their minds – and their outlook on the disabled. Even though she is still a child, she has touched many hearts and lives.

Lauren Glenn was our gift from God, wrapped in the most glorious eye-catching paper you have ever seen. Every day she pulls a small gift out from inside herself and teaches her lesson from God – whether she realizes it or not.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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