Unless you’ve had a severely handicapped special needs child, you cannot know how hard it is—both for the child and the parents. But in order to help these families and pray for them in the right way, we needto know. That’s why memoirs are so wonderful; they allow us to enter the author’s personal experience, to “feel” their pain with them. They help stretch our compassion. That is precisely what Butterflies and Second Chancesby Annette Hines did for me. It enlarged my empathy.
Butterflies and Second Chances, A Mom’s Memoir of Love and Lossbrings you into Ms. Hines life as a young wife and mother with her first child, Elizabeth, who was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease—a degenerative, life-limiting illness. The news shook Hines’ world and rattled her marriage. That was bad enough, but what played out during the early months, then the ensuing years, was more alarming.
It seems that little is known about mitochondrial disease because of its rarity, which makes it unworthy of much-needed research and resources. (After all, most people haven’t heard of this disease so they would likely not donate to research.) But when you see a child suffer with this debilitating sickness, and when you see a family struggle to survive because of it, it is clear that more needs to be done.
After numerous problems with finances, marriage, the added stress of endless cycles of traipsing Elizabeth to and from hospitals—something that was especially traumatic for the child—Hines saw the need for a total revamp of the system from medical to advocacy and everything in between.
The system needed an overhaul for children like her daughter. Hines later passed the bar exam and became part of the solution. She created the Special Needs Law Group of Massachusetts.
Elizabeth did not remain an only child. And although her younger sister, Caroline, did not suffer from the same ailment, she was not spared of deep pain. Her mother’s preoccupation with Elizabeth’s needs crippled Caroline with a sense of isolation, even abandonment. But not everything that happened to Hines and her girls was negative. God had some incredible surprises in store for the family.
Entering Annette Hines world of pain and trauma is eye opening. I encourage anyone who cares for children, and especially those who know families with special needs children, to read this book. It will change you.
Published by Lioncrest Publishing, Butterflies and Second Chances, A Mom’s Memoir of Love and Losscan be found wherever books are sold.