open letter to Rachel's school staff

Dear staff at NPCC School - principal, office staff, therapists, teachers, EAs, busdrivers.... and everyone else,
Thank you.  Thank you for a wonderful year with our daughter Rachel.  We love how you love our Rachel.  She is not hard to love, this is true, but we know that you do genuinely care for her - and we appreciate that sincerity.  We love how you greet her in the hallways, calling her by name and giving her eye contact.  She loves the eye contact, and we believe she knows her name.
Thank you for using respectful phrases such as when you are changing her diaper, you simply tell me that “she is in the washroom at the moment.”  
Thank you for your kindness with our whole family.  You welcome Janneke, even when she comes barreling through the foyer in her walker, intent on exploring every open door.  Thank you for making my older girls feel welcome.  Just because they have two sisters who are severely disabled does not make them instantly comfortable with all disabilities.  You go out of your way to make them feel relaxed.
Most importantly, you have taught me to love Rachel even more so. I now watch her more closely, looking for signs of understanding, and watch for cues that signal to me her desires.  It is difficult to verbalize, but sometimes I find that the sorrow, sleep deprivation, envy and self-pity that comes with parenting a child with significant special needs clouds my own perspective on what Rachel can do and who Rachel is.  
You are able to love and celebrate Rachel without that extra burden.  I envy that freedom in loving her.  I have been reminded over and over by your work with Rachel that she is truly a joy, and though I might want her to remain at NPCC School always, you are just one stage in her life.  Just as a caterpillar-soon-to-be-butterfly does not remain within the cocoon, Rachel too will at some point fly from NPCC School.  In the meantime, we will cherish your time and energy and share with others how thankful we are.
We had a great time at the annual school picnic this week.  Here’s a photo of Janneke running down the path; she also had a great time with all the kids.

Emily and Sophia loved being around the kids from school.  In some ways, it was refreshing for them to see the variety of needs and sense the “new normal” other families have like we do.  Their hearts were also affected by your work this year.  
I hope you have a rest-filled summer.  We look forward to sending Rachel to you this fall, and we can only wonder what she will accomplish and do with you. Yes, we know you are not perfect - no one is.  

But, the joy you share reminds me of the Grace that we have been given to live victoriously, in our brokenness and with our disabilities.
Thanks again, staff at NPCC School.
Peace for your week.