"We're going to count to three, and then stand? Are you ready? Put your arms around my neck."

I wasn't talking to my 3-year-old with hypotonia. 

We were moving my dad-in-law from his hospice bed to a lift chair.

My first experience with a gait belt.

Helping a man almost twice my weight.


A man who was losing his battle with stage 4 brain cancer.

At the time, I couldn't help but think of our little Adelaide.

We practice safe transfers.

Safe lifting.

Safe carrying.

But she is getting bigger.

Gained 7 pounds since her birthday.

Would she need a gait belt?

She and her Papa Bob were both in diapers. Using wheelchairs.

Having seizures, not able to drink from cups, entire muscle groups not cooperating.


"Look what I got for Addie!" Our physical therapist was thrilled to show me a tiny gait belt.

My second experience with a gait belt, less than three short months after my dad-in-law's passing.

My head spun a bit as all those recent memories of him invaded my mental space.

The sound of the machines.

The look of the scars on his head from the surgery that only prolonged his life, but couldn't save him.

The smell of those cleaning cloths.

Glorified baby wipes, that we now use on Adelaide.

There were so many leftover after he died.

I panicked for a moment - no, Adelaide can't wear a gait belt, this can't be right.


She cannot wear it.

I can't lose her.

Then I snapped back to reality.

It was a completely different situation.

Adelaide is getting stronger every day.

She needs this gait belt to practice her standing.

To improve her mobility.

To see the world from a different perspective. And, most importantly, to keep all of us safe.


As she gets taller and heavier, the gait belt allows us more freedom to practice skills.

To keep working toward Adelaide's future.

Possibly standing. Hopefully walking someday.

We have no idea what she'll be able to do.

Or what tools she'll need.

I couldn't have imagined that such a small accessory would carry so many memories and fears and hopes in its rainbow threads and velcro.


"Adelaide, we're going to count to three and then stand. Are you ready?"

And she was ready.

She stood.

For three glorious seconds.

Her Papa Bob would've been so proud.

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