March 24, 2011

18 Years by David Cluff

This week I kept thinking about the past 18 years of my life and all the ups and downs, joys and sadness and all the things in life. I would like to dedicate “18 Years” to my loving parents, who were always there when I looked back. My parents have gone through a lot for me and tried to make the best of everything.

Before I was born, my parents were told many things about me and one was that I might not live very long---maybe not even make it to birth. My parents cried but had faith that everything would be alright. It was not easy for them but with faith in Christ they made it through. To everyone’s surprise I was born relatively healthy---premature, but without the major problems they expected.

My childhood was different than most other kids. My parents found out that I was losing my hearing at age three. I then lost all my hearing at age six---unknown of what my life would be like. They wondered if I would ever hear music, voices, or even my own voice. I really missed hearing my mom play the piano and would often go sit at the piano and just play…trying to remember what it sounded like. My parents worked hard and prayed that I would be able to be the happy boy I used to be. I lived in a silent world for six months, when I then got my first Cochlear Implant. The first thing I said after we turned it on was, “Mommy & Daddy, I can hear my footsteps!” I soon started becoming the happy boy I once was and had the best of both worlds. My parents were always at my side and made sure I learned how to speak, learn, and love those around me. When I was seven, I had two younger brothers who were my buddies. Our family also decided to move to Missouri—not knowing why we needed to leave Utah where we had family, friends and home. I remember the day we left for this new adventure, my uncle gave me a little NASA spaceship for me to play with while on the road. I sat in our truck and watched everyone wave. I really did not know what my life would be like in the years to come.

The next 10 years turned out to be some of the best years in my life. Not only did we leave everything but I faced a new journey that would change my life. How? I did not know yet. At our first home I attended a school that was just across the street and was able to go with my little brother. I felt safe knowing that home was just a little walk away and I knew my mother was there. After a few months the school wanted to transfer me to a new school where they had a class for deaf children. The school was 45 minutes away and in a place I was not familiar with. I soon met the teacher and saw the classroom and was alright with it. The day came when the bus came to pick me up; it was a small bus, un-like the big long buses that usually come around. I got on the bus seeing only two other children and found a seat where I sat and waved good bye. I was terrified of the change and how long it took to get to school. I was almost in tears until I remembered what my parents taught about prayer. They said, “If you pray for help, comfort or anything, Heavenly Father will answer you.” I said a silent prayer asking for help. I closed my eyes and felt peace, like my mother was holding me tight saying everything will be alright. I soon made friends and enjoyed the long rides each day. I did this for two years and then my family moved to a new home and I transferred to a regular school again. A year later I was transferred to a new school with fewer kids. After a while my parents and I decided it was best for me to be homeschooled. I was able to understand better and hear more clearly what I was trying to learn. I was happy when I realized I would not have to keep changing schools--- trying to look for something better. Being homeschooled would let me be in an environment that I knew and where I could hear instructions better.

High school came; I was 14 and was in the process of getting insurance approval for a 2nd Cochlear Implant. In the middle on my 1st semester, I was approved and got my 2nd implant in November 2007.

At first, I thought it would be a big change but it was only the beginning. I was soon asked by doctors if I could help start a Support Group for teens like me. I started helping them and was able to share my story more than ever. Then I started helping my surgeon with research which then led to the inspiration to build a website for my Eagle Scout project. In August 2010 became a reality. In the midst of all this I developed my love for photography and loved capturing simple moments. When I look at a photo I see no motion, or hear sound---just expressions. That is what it is like being deaf; there are no sounds, just expressions.

My mother taught me many lessons but there is one that I will never forget. One day I was having a rough day and wished I was just like everyone else, normal hearing. Even though I have the best of both worlds, I still face many challenges. My mother took the time to talk to me and listened to how I was feeling. She said “Have patience and trust in the Lord.” To live the best of both worlds I learned I need to have patience, trust, and faith in Heavenly Father. Life is not going to always be easy but it is made possible through Christ.

My father taught me the value of hard work. We can’t expect things to get done by themselves…we have to work for it. During my high school years we decided to remodel our house and it took a lot of work to take down walls, carpet and wallpaper. We worked hard putting down new flooring, base, and cabinets. Each project there was a lesson to be learned. I learned that when we plan and measure right we can do anything we want to.

I am truly grateful for my parents and the great example they have shown to me.