The second of these moving tributes was given by Our Kelly. We have been so blessed to have her as a part of our family.
Sometime in November of two thousand twelve, I needed a job. I created a profile on a babysitters’ website, hoping to find a few new families to babysit while I attended school full time. After several weeks went by, things were going well. I was considering taking my care profile off of the website, assuming I couldn’t possibly fit any more new sitting commitments in my schedule.
Around that time, I had a new message from another user on the website, a user named “William Y.” The subject line read simply, “A Little Help.” I opened it, and learned that William Y. needed some care for his three children, especially their baby named Nora. After setting up and completing an interview with William Y., who I now knew as William Yusko, I learned more about his family, and about this sweet baby named Nora, who had a genetic disorder called Trisomy 18, or Edward’s Syndrome. We planned on my stopping by their home that Friday night so I could meet his wife Aleisa, and their children Gavin, Greta, and baby Nora. That evening finally arrived, and I was nervous to meet Nora, and to be responsible for her and her siblings while their parents went out to dinner. Since everyone knows the end of this story, you probably think that that first night that I babysat Gavin, Greta, and Nora went perfectly. I wish I could tell you that; but it wasn’t. It was basically a babysitting fail.
For starters, a terrible thunderstorm raged all night and the house shook with every crack of lightening. Gavin and Greta were understandable shy and didn’t really feel comfortable talking to, or even coming near this strange new person in their home. I accidentally froze their TV screen and didn’t know how to fix it, so the kids couldn’t watch their movie. Worst of all, this tiny, seemingly fragile and oh-so-breakable baby named Nora would not stop crying, no matter WHAT I did to try and appease her. From the moment her parents left, the house was filled with her wailing, as Gavin and Greta looked on nervously. At one point, even sweet little Greta began to cry. By the time William and Aleisa returned, paid me, and I left, I had already chalked that night up to “a learning experience,” knowing that this poor family would never be calling me to babysit again.
Less than a week went by, and to my great surprise, the phone rang. It was William Yusko, asking me to come by the next weeknight to spend some time with Nora. I was shocked, to say the least. I remembered thinking, “Wow, they must have either really liked me, or they are SO desperate!”
That weeknight came and went, and a few more weeks went by. By then, sitting for the Yuskos had become a regular gig. However, I still felt pretty discouraged.
If you had the privilege to know Nora while she was here on this earth, then you know she’s a VERY “particular” little lady. She knows what she likes and knows what she wants, and she has NO problem letting you know “you’re doing it wrong.” So every time my phone rang and the Yuskos wanted me to babysit or provide respite with Nora, I was surprised. I felt like I did nothing right with Nora. On top of it all, I hardly knew how to interact with Gavin and Greta because I was always so stressed about getting it right with Nora.
But, as you may have surmised, things began to change. One afternoon I was standing in the Yuskos’ kitchen and making a bottle, when a breathless and red-faced Greta burst through the front door, home from school. “I ran all the way home from the bus stop!” she cheerfully explained. I asked her why. “Because I saw your car in our driveway!” , she smiled. Soon after, Gavin and I discovered that our sense of humor and maturity level were about the same.
And best of all, on a snowy December night, sometime around 3 AM, I rocked a certain fussy baby. Her sweet blue eyes looked into mine, her tiny mouth gave a content smile, her little body drifted off to sleep, and her little baby finger now had a nanny named Kelly wrapped tightly around it.
As the months went on and 2012 became 2013, my love for Nora and for the Yuskos grew. I started staying later and later after my scheduled time, just to play with the kids or have dinner with the family. My cell phone soon became filled with nothing but pictures of the kids. My friends and family commented how all I talked about anymore were those Yusko kids. In June of 2013, I moved into the lower level of their home. I started going to nearly all family functions, feeling not just at home with the Yuskos, but with their extended family as well. These three children began to consume my heart.
By now, I knew this miracle baby inside and out. Her likes and dislikes, her moods, her different cries, her sleeping patterns, and her sweet and oh so sassy disposition. Before my eyes, that fussy little baby became a big, chubby toddler, and my very best friend. And like a true best friend, Nora began to change my life for the better, in ways I’d never imagined. I began listening to almost nothing but Christian radio, since that’s what Nora loved. I discovered my love for Crossroads church and a renewed relationship with Christ, and got baptized on April 30th, 2014.
I know I’m not the only one whom Nora brought closer to Christ. Hundreds and hundreds of followers on Aleisa’s blog have been touched by Nora’s story, and by the miracle of her life. When Nora was hospitalized this past January, a family member of mine told me that she literally got down on her knees and prayed for Nora’s health, something this woman had not done in over ten years.
My dad suddenly and unexpectedly passed away on February 25th of this year, at the age of 48. Nora has been my rock through this storm. I wasn’t able to check out and fall apart through my pain, because my sweet Nora needed me. She would let me hold her and didn’t mind if I sobbed uncontrollably, but would smile and rub my arm.
Nora inspired me every day to live my life better. I loved to watch her wake up from a nap or a deep sleep. She would open her eyes, look around, and just smile. She was happy to be awake. Happy she was in her house. Happy that it was a plain old rainy Tuesday. If this child, who has overcome so many obstacles and likely had more to face, could wake up every day with such hope and joy, couldn’t I? Couldn’t we all? It shouldn’t surprise anyone when I confess that Nora is my hero. She will forever be my hero.
So now the question is, what are we going to do? How can we go on without this sweet girl? How can we live on earth without Nora Rose? Well, I’ll let you know when I figure that out, but what I CAN tell you is this: We have been left a great responsibility. Nora’s Mother. Nora’s Father. Nora’s Nanny. Nora’s Nurse. Nora’s Follower. These are our titles. Our job now is to live up to them, to work the rest of our lives to somehow be worthy enough to be associated with this angel, this miracle, this Prophet to the Nations. Thank you.