My identities have been those of marketer, single woman who may never get married, married woman who may never have kids .. but then DID have kids and identified as a triplet mom, special needs mom, grieving mother (I don’t prefer this one but it’s my reality), advocate and most recently children’s book author and writer. My husband Rob and I were blessed with triplets in 2012. Our son Benjamin suffered complications due to prematurity and was diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy at just 10 months old and then Epilepsy a little more than a year later.
This would lead us down a path we did not expect and were not yet prepared for. We were introduced to the world of significant needs and fought on a daily basis to provide Benjamin with the care, tools and resources that would fulfill his needs and enable him to have the best possible outcome in life. After a series of health and respiratory illnesses over an 18-month period, Benjamin Robert passed away just before his fourth birthday in 2016.
Through our grief and love and to honor our son, we established the Ben Smiles Memorial Foundation and purchase adapted toys and devices for kids with motor challenges, where typical play is difficult.
In addition, I turned to various forms of writing including blogs, news articles, stories and even a children’s book, as a way to process my grief and despair, and create meaning for the family change we were forced to face. The first result was Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach, a new children’s picture book about a young brother with cerebral palsy, which published in May 2018. It was inspired by Benjamin and shows that all children can play and dream. It recently earned 5-star review from Readers’ Favorite and can be found on Amazon.
I truly struggled for over a year to process the loss of my son. But I’ve come to accept and believe that things happen for a reason and this was meant to be our story.