Silence isn’t bliss

There was a time when I thought silence was bliss. But then my son stopped talking. It wasn’t sudden—a slow progression over the last year. Now, the silence in my house is deafening, and it doesn’t feel good—to say it’s unsettling is mild.

We have a new diagnoses to digest and manage—selective mutism—often brought on by social anxiety. We’re wading in the waters of mental health challenges. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so helpless.

I know a diagnosis is the first step to overcoming. But here’s the thing—I didn’t want a new diagnosis. Selfishly, I wanted to coast—I needed to coast—at least for a little while.

I thought our days of diagnosis were long gone. Again, I’m reminded of the quote by John Lennon: “Life is what happens when we are busy making other plans.” I realize how little control I truly have.

Aidan has Down syndrome, and speech has always been one of his greatest strengths. He was my kid who NEVER stopped talking.  There were days when the constant need for conversation and questions were draining. 

Would I’ve had more patience if I knew what was coming?

There was a day when Aidan was fearless with his voice—he was overjoyed to share this gift with the world. I was confident that the strength of his voice would help shape his future.

I received a message from our board chair, Matt, after sharing this information.  

“I’m happy to hear you have some answers for Aidan. Hoping for “downhill peddling” in 2024 for the Eppards….but if there is some uphill, you all have the fortitude to handle it.”

Like many things in life, friend, I had to stew on his message, especially the word fortitudeIt felt too big.

I reached out to my companion, Google, to get some insight.

Fortitude is the mental and emotional strength to persevere in the face of adversity or challenges. It’s about enduring difficult situations and doing so with courage, resilience, and a positive attitude.

That’s a pretty tall order.

Matt’s message left me searching for perspective. It pushed me forward, taking stock of the things in our corner, such as:

  • Aidan has a speech therapist who has a background in trauma. They match up like magnet and metal—this is a gift.
  • We have a physician invested in making sure that Aidan’s anxiety is managed responsibly.
  • We have a community that supports our family and Aidan—they care deeply. 

Sometimes, when you are in the valley, it’s hard to come up for air and see things for how they truly are. It’s difficult to remember the importance of HOPE and the SUPPORT system waiting to push you into a new day.  

I realize this message to you is a rather personal narrative.  

But if I’ve discovered anything by putting my thoughts in writing, it’s the absolute necessity of Family Hope Foundation’s mission.

Hundreds of families in our community do not have the support I have to face their child’s diagnosis. They are alone. And nothing is harder.

A quote I keep on my whiteboard: “There’s nothing more calming in difficult moments than knowing there is someone fighting with you”—Mother Teresa.  

Community is a powerful force.

Family Hope Foundation is present and WITH families—always.

We’re WITH families by providing scholarships, offering family events, and sharing resources—we’re WITH families by building a community of support. 

We CELEBRATE with families, but also HELP families get through the lows—the valley.  

This is what being a true community is all about. This IS Family Hope Foundation. Yes, community IS a powerful force—necessary.

We help families navigate through new diagnoses and connect them to the SUPPORT that will give them HOPE and new opportunities.

We are here to empower families with fortitude—a quality I’m convinced grows stronger when fostered through community.  

We help families build futures without limits. That’s our end goal! 

Jane Eppard
Executive Director

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