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Guest Post by Leanna Best: Lessons From Javan

Photo by Travis S. at

This narrative was written by Leanna Best, a student in one of my Composition-101 classes held during the Fall-Winter 2010 semester at Monroe Community College.

My aunt’s third child, Javan, was born with his umbilical cord wrapped around his throat. Without air for five minutes, doctors told my aunt that Javan was not going to survive because he had lost too much oxygen. My aunt asked the doctors to try anything they could to help him to regain consciousness. The doctors put him on a respirator where each minute felt like an hour. Amazingly, Javan began breathing independently again, but the doctors told my aunt that Javan would be handicapped for the rest of his life as a result of the brain damage he had suffered. The doctors also told my aunt that Javan’s lifespan would be shorter than normal.

Guest-blogger, Leanna Best

All my aunt wanted was for her son to live, and her wish came true. But the doctors were right, too. Javan is handicapped. He cannot walk, talk, eat, or dress himself. Throughout his life he has always been in a wheelchair. Every few years, Javan has to get a bigger wheelchair because he is still growing. He is now sixteen years old and has been in a wheelchair for his entire life.

Javan has short, dark brown hair. He is very thin, but he is still very heavy. Javan can only wiggle his arms and legs in his black wheelchair, but he does not have enough muscle strength to walk or lift anything; nevertheless, he is a very happy teenager and always has a smile on his face.

Each day, my aunt faces the struggles of having a handicapped son. He has to go to a special school and get special care every day. Each day, my aunt lifts Javan out of his bed, washes him, dresses him, feeds him, and even changes his diaper. She has a huge responsibility and will have to live with this for the rest of her life. As Javan’s body grows, he gets heavier, and lifting him has become challenging. She will always have to worry about her son having a reduced lifespan.

Knowing Javan has made a huge impact in my life because I see how my aunt struggles with my younger cousin. I love him just as I love each of my cousins, and I hate to see him suffer. I hate to see him cry, and I hate not knowing what he is thinking or what he wants us to know. I know it will be extremely hard for my entire family the day he is no longer with us.

I have learned so much from watching what my aunt goes through every day, taking care of Javan. I don’t know if I would be able to do what she does every day without a lot of help. From watching my aunt, I have learned how big a responsibility it is to take care of a special needs child on a daily basis. Javan cannot communicate in words at all; he can only make sounds. My aunt has to try to figure out what he needs or wants on her own. I have seen how hard it is raising children, and I can hardly imagine what it would be like to try to raise a child who cannot clearly communicate in words or gestures.

My aunt is very patient and caring. She gives Javan the care he needs every day. While I like to think that I am good with Javan and enjoy the time I spend with him, I also like taking him home. I don’t think I could handle this type of responsibility every day, along with having four other children to care for.

My whole family loves Javan so much and we would not trade him for anything. My aunt was given this challenge and she has mastered it with lots of love, time, and effort. My wish for my aunt and Javan for 2011 is a simple one: for them to be happy and healthy!

20 thoughts on “Guest Post by Leanna Best: Lessons From Javan

  1. Leanna, your aunt is a remarkable woman. Like you, I have strong doubt I could walk in her shoes and yet, SHE WALKS. Thank you for sharing your story! I hope more people see what it means to be selfless and to understand and realize that we all were not asked to be here but in the event that we are brought into this world. It would be nice to know that in every mother and father looking at their new bundle of joy possess the same qualities your aunt does! Luv ya, GIRL!!

    1. LOVE YOU TOO GIRL!! This paper is so special to me and my cousin is so important to me!! I took him to the zoo over the summer and he loved it!!! I ENJOYED WRITING IT!! MISS YOU!! WASNT THIS CLASS SOO WORTH IT??

  2. Leanna, I’m so proud of you for sharing this piece, along with so many other personal pieces of writing. I hope you always remember that all you need is a pen/pencil and a scrap of paper to “write it out,” and get those thoughts and feelings down. Your aunt is truly an inspiration. (You should send her the link, or print this out and give it to her! 😉

    1. I enjoyed this class it really helped me so much more than I thought it would. I enjoyed it, and having you as a teacher just put the icing on the cake. You’re tough, but you’re the most amazing teacher I have had in college! I expressed so much in my writing, and I felt good about it! Thank you so much for ALL your help!! My mom is actually on the phone with my aunt as we speak. I want to show her when she comes over! Thank you so much!

  3. Leanna, your aunt is an inspiration not just to you, but to all of us. She didn’t ask for this life but is living it and providing the love that Javan needs. Be there for her, as you have been, and love every day you have with him. And, like Renee says, writing out your feelings is very helpful. Stick with writing – you are good at it and it may take you places you didn’t even realize it could.

  4. Leanna, You have a remarkable talent for writing about a very emotionally difficult topic with clarity. Many people get entangled in their feelings and lose the words. You’ve managed to hold on to and steer the words to take your narrative where it needed to go. Awesome job.

    I’ve a very good friend whose husband is now confined to a wheelchair and who has lost mobility in one of his arms. Basically, she takes care of him like your aunt takes care of Javan. What I find most inspiring about my friend is her outlook: I’ve never heard her complain! She is a constant source of light and love. It seems to me that being giving the opportunity to care for others who are more vulnerable and needy is an exquisite gift.

    Great work on this essay!


  5. Leanna,
    You are a remarkable woman. I find it truly inspirational the way you show your love for your aunt and your cousin. You have a strong sense of the work, devotion and love your aunt has put in to take care of Javan. Your writing shows passion, courage and love. I appreciate that you wrote such a beutiful piece. I am glad you had Renee as a teacher. She is one of the best and has helped you to put “out there” what you already had “in there”. Happy new year.

    1. Thank you so much!! I am soooo thankful I got her for a teacher. She was a random pick and I loved her! Thank you so much and I enjoyed getting my feelings on paper. 🙂

  6. My mom raised 7 girls. One was born with cerebral palsy. She had limited use of her legs. She grew up in a family where my mother challenged her to become the independent woman she is today as a mother of three beautiful children. My sister attended a special school and had friends that had more severe handicaps than her. One girlfriend of hers had no arms and legs. My mother still today cannot speak of this wonderful woman without crying because she did not let her armless/legless life limit her.

    Another friend of ours had cerebral palsy and the only way to communicate was with a special board her loving father made her. She wore a head band with a pointer on it, would point to certain things on the board and be able to communicate.

    Your aunt is a special person. I truly believe those of us who can endure the hardship associated with a special needs child or relative TRULY is the kind of human being we all would want to be friends with and learn from. God bless your aunt and your cousin. What a beautiful piece of writing you wrote, and what a beautiful family you have been blessed with.

    1. Thank you so much! People need to be thankful for what they have. Your story is amazing and very creative! I love these beautiful stories! God Bless!

    1. Thank you so much!! I could not have done it without Mrs. Jacobson!! I love her! She is the most AMAZING teacher I have had in college!!

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