Gift from God

So excited to share my Uncle Kent’s story – it is vulnerable, authentic, and full of love!

From an Uncle’s perspective……

Aaron’s dad is my only sibling, and Aaron is the first-born child, grandchild and nephew on both sides of the family.  As you can appreciate, Aaron is the light, the love, the soul and the inspiration to everyone in our family.

As the first born, Aaron’s birth on October 17th was one of the most anticipated days of my life, as it was with every member of our family.  Long before cell phones and use of personal emails, I still recall the updates by landline telephone, with updatesbeing share with one individual and then the information beingcascaded down throughout the family.  Aaron’s arrival was nothing less than precious and memorable event and for everyone who knows Aaron, the entire month of October is dedicated as Aaron’s Birthday month.  Nothing has changed.  I am also blessed with the privilege of being Aaron’s Godfather, this is an honor bestowed upon me that only I can cherish and hold dear to my heart.

Many of the details from October 17th have now faded, but I remember as if it was yesterday when my brother and sister-in-law told me they named their first born “Aaron”.  It was in the same breath they said the name Aaron means, “A Gift from God”.  To this very day, every time I hear Aaron’s name mentioned, the “Gift from God” reference sweeps through my head.

Of everyone in our family and extended family, I believe Aaron and I have much more in common than anyone realizes or thought much about.  Aaron and I both have characteristics that don’t quite fit into society, and it is Aaron, and only Aaron, who has taught me to be a better person and to accept life as it is God’s plan.  Aaron has taught me to be confident in my own skin and to not let the whispers, the comments, and the looks from others determine my happiness or well-being.  I am a gay man and have always thought I was the square peg trying to fit into a round hole, it’s never been easy being gay and at times, it’s been extremely difficult and painful.  But it is Aaron who has taught me to rise above the behaviors of others and be true to myself and cherish life and the love of others who care unconditionally.  Aaron loves everyone unconditionally and expects nothing in return.  Aaron embraces each day, every event, and each milestone with an infectious smile and a contagious level of enthusiasm!  Aaron has taught me to notfocus on things that I cannot change but to embrace and cherish the many blessings in my life.  Aaron’s wisdom, unconditional love and zest for life is something many of us may take for granted, but it is a lesson we should strive for each and everyday.

Aaron is a very special young man and the lessons I’ve learned from him can never be taught in a school or through a book.  Our parents have taught us to love and accept everyone’s differences but when you’re the different one, those lessons take on a whole different meaning.  Aaron’s unconditional love for me and my husband come from his heart and from his love of family, and it is something that will always be cherished.  As you know, when I hear Aaron’s name, I always remember he’s “A Gift from God”. Aaron is a blessing and my life is a better place for being his Uncle.    

Thank you Uncle Kent for sharing your heart with us.     

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Goodbyes Suck

“Goodbyes Suck” – Aaron Trofholz

Aaron highly anticipates any time our family gets together and the holidays are no exception. He looks forward to these events with such passion. The monthly countdown quickly turns into weeks, days, and the final minutes until each family member pulls into the driveway.

Then something happens, he realizes we will inevitably be leaving to return to our homes. He becomes quiet and slightly withdrawn. When you ask to sit with him, his eyes well up with tears and he says very matter of factly, “Goodbyes Suck”.

He has this unique ability to be present for the good times and present for the hard times. He acknowledges the stuff he finds challenging and he owns it.

As Christmas Day started to pass, he became quieter and quieter. He remained fixated on what time we were leaving, why we were leaving, and when he will see us next.

A delicious Christmas dinner came to a close and Aaron excused himself immediately. He needed to report to his duty of monitoring the door for our departure. As I loaded my arms with bags my eyes welled up in sync with his welled up eyes. It hit me like a ton of bricks… rather than hide my tears in embarrassment, I would allow my vulnerability to be seen. That I too can be present for the good times and be present for the hard times, much like Aaron. Had I not witnessed his ability to show up in his truth, I may not have been able to do the same.

Yes Aaron, goodbyes suck. In the suck, you have shown me how to be grateful for a love that few words can articulate. The love of family. You have shown me that sometimes the most loving thing we can do is to show our wholehearted vulnerability. Love shows up for us in various forms, even the hard moments can be rooted in deep love.

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Giving Thanks

This week’s story comes from Matt, Aaron’s first sibling. Thank you Matt for an inspiring story and sharing such a huge piece of Aaron’s life.

Thanksgiving is a special time of year for all of us. Being thankful for things like family, friends, health, and companionship. Having way too much turkey and pumpkin pie. Trampling each other to death at Wal-Mart to get the last fidget spinner. While we can expect all of these every year, the Thanksgiving holiday encompasses something a little larger and a little deeper for both myself and my family. 

Aaron is oftentimes the glue that holds our family together. Regardless of what is going on in our lives, or whatever hardships and challenging experiences we might be going through, the one constant every holiday in our house is that Aaron will be there to make us laugh, smile, and help us realize how lucky we are as a family to have one another and have each other’s support. And for that, I am very thankful. However, there is also something else that I am incredibly thankful for that is worth mentioning during this time of year.

I believe Aaron is a product of his environment. The reason he is such a positive part of all of our lives, is because he has so many positive people in his life. It is difficult to put into words how lucky he is to have such a loving and compassionate family. It starts with my parents who have sacrificed and have given so much to ensure that Aaron’s quality of life is as good as it can possibly get. It extends to my sisters who can, and do, seamlessly step in at a moment’s notice and provide the same level of love and comfort. It extends to family friends who also provide the highest level of warmth and endearment that anyone could ask. The number of family friends we have who go out of their way to make Aaron feel important by taking him to lunch, FaceTiming with him, and calling him on his birthday is almost inconceivable. I recently told somebody that we could not ask for a better group of people for Aaron to be surrounded by, and I really do believe that and for that, we are all tremendously grateful. 

To all those people who have selflessly given part of their life to help, mentor, and spend time with Aaron–I can’t say thank you enough. You know who you are. 

Seeing the similarities over the differences is the heart’s greatest ability.

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Smile

Social media can be a powerful tool. Social media can serve as a platform to share your life with the hopes of inspiring others. I was able to connect with this week’s writer, Kayla, after being touched and inspired by her posts. I selected the genius “message” tab and asked Kayla if she’d be willing to share about her son on the blog. She graciously said yes. The privilege of connecting with those who have or love someone with extra abilities continues to humble me to my core. Further proof that Through connection we can overcome the label of disability and unleash our true abilities.

Meet Jagger:

Jagger is a uniquely wonderful human being to whom I have the honor of calling my son. His ability to make you smile even when you’re having a bad day is something very special and how even though hitting milestones doesn’t come easy, he doesn’t stop trying to figure out how to do things.

He has taught our family the ability to smile even when times get tough, that there is so much beauty in the unexpected. And to be patient, things will come with time and effort.

If there is one thing people could learn from my son is, when facing adversity, never give up, and just keep smiling because things will get better!

Thank you Kayla!

You can keep up with their journey by following @kayladine on Instagram!

Seeing the similarities over the differences is the heart’s greatest ability.

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What Counts

This week’s story is brought to you by Aaron’s Aunt Red, also known as “Red”.

Please enjoy the story:

Sometimes I think the more the heart in my chest fights and pushes against my weaknesses or blah days, the closer I am to my spiritual “what counts”  self.  I said SOMETIMES.

But glimmers of “what counts” come from my nephew Aaron at ALL TIMES. I said ALL TIMES.I know this because I am an expert! An expert at being Aunt Red hanging out with Nephew Aaron! Aaron is a glimmer, a shine, a twinkle, a light. However you put it, he is  “what counts.”

Recently, he reminded me of this:

One night, while loading 2 days worth of dirty dishes into my worn out dishwasher that makes noise on the sanitize cycle, I thought about people who I lost touch with, and tried to reconnect with …and no reply for one reason or another. Life happens but I am very popular with myself —shouldn’t everyone answer?

I felt sorry for myself. It’s genetic. I’m Irish. I was taking in my 5-minute lament. I should have jumped into that noisy dishwasher for a mental wash— and sanitize on the ‘Quit feeling sorry for yourself’ cycle.

The next day at work, a call came in on my cell that I wanted to take but couldn’t. I listened to the message from Aaron ona break: “Siiiissssay! (Pause) Siiiiiisssay! IT’S AARON! Hi. Cheese fart. How’s your day? It’s cold here. (Pause). I love you. Bye.” The sting of disconnect was gone. And we have a joke as old as the ages (me) about cheese farts.

Aaron’s message was a glimmer of “what counts” from his voice of strength, love and determination. We caught up on FaceTime soon after. My nephew Aaron’s family tells me he checks in with everyone. I’m happy to be on his list! But the timing of when he checked in with me that day was too coincidental not to believe it went from my sappy selfie lament to his happy ears. Aaron’s mother, my sister (sssiiiissaay), says, “I don’t believe in winki dinks” – it’s more than a coincidence. Aaron’s message was more than a coincidence. It was meant to be.

I believe in  “what counts.” Aaron is ALWAYS  “what counts” in this world.  Wherever you’re at, he’ll find you and pull you up or out! Aaron knows how to connect and keep all connected. What a gift! His personality, instincts, love and humor are a joy to be around!

Aaron is a seer of “what counts!”

You’ll see this when you’re around him!

By: Aunt Red

Seeing the similarities over the differences is the heart’s greatest ability.

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