When I was a child, my father joined a mountain-climbing club where people from all around Rio would meet on Sundays to climb together. Once he had learned the main tracks, he began taking his kids and other teens from the neighborhood up to the many peaks in the area. As I grew up, I realized that life is like a range of mountains, and each one needs to be conquered in a different way.
My youngest son, Mat, suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He is hyperactive and has difficulty concentrating. He struggles to learn appropriate behavior and to understand rules. On the other hand, he is very caring and gets along unusually well with animals and small children.
I always thought that if I had a child with disabilities or learning difficulties, I would feel discouraged or upset at God, but my first feeling at receiving the diagnosis was deep love and compassion. I held Mat tight and thought, This is our next mountain and we will climb it together. I was also blessed to have lots of support from friends who helped me research the condition.
Over the years, I have had moments of doubt and questioning “why us?” but all along, God found ways to reassure me of His special love for Mat. He’s often found himself on the receiving end of special treats, like when we were traveling to visit my older daughter and her family in Chile, and Mat made friends with the cabin crew and pilots. As boarding was delayed, he got to talk with them for a long time in his broken Spanish and was thrilled when the pilot later mentioned him by name in his announcements and invited him to visit the cockpit.
Early in the morning, the plane passed by Mount Aconcagua (6,961 meters; 22,837 ft). That was the first time I had seen a mountain so high that even planes had to circle it. It is a majestic peak, with hundreds of smaller mountains around it. They were all covered with snow that shone with the first golden rays of the sun.
Life can be as beautiful as the Andes at dawn, even though it is full of tall mountains. My son Mat has been my Aconcagua so far. Even though it hasn’t been easy, I have been thrilled with every moment of our climb!