I wish there was a word bigger and more special than “thank you.” I know you can say, “thank you so much,” which is a little more gracious. But what word or phrase is appropriate when you wish to thank someone for changing your child’s life? There are no words.
A few months ago, Jillian and I had the chance to say thank you in person to a large group of optometrists and vision therapists at their annual meeting. I was thrilled to speak to those who have gone above and beyond to become developmental optometrists and vision therapists. They are members of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD –www.covd.org). The name is a little confusing as it’s not a college in terms of a university campus, but an association of advanced, specialized vision care professionals.
Jillian was there as a surprise to all but a few people. She was given a “student” nametag and sat in the middle of the audience without anyone realizing her true identity. I kicked off our presentation with a huge slide that said, “Thank You.” These professionals change lives for the better, sometimes quite miraculously, and I wanted to express my gratitude and admiration for their work.
I introduced Jillian and her wonderful vision therapist, Lindsey Hebert, about half way into the presentation. It was a great surprise to the crowd. Jillian and Lindsey shared the vision therapy success stories of four children Jillian had come to know via e-mail. Jillian and I followed their progress through vision therapy and celebrated with them along the way. We cheered for them as they made straight A’s, hit a baseball, rode a bike, and discovered a love of books. And, on behalf of these children, Jillian expressed her thanks for the changes in their lives.
The day after our speech, I noticed a gentleman standing at a slight distance from our book signing table. He seemed to be waiting for someone. After standing there for several minutes, he came over and shook our hands. He told us that he was the optometrist of one of the success story children Jillian had mentioned in her speech. Jillian jumped out of her seat, bolted around the table and came to stand in front of him. She told him, without even taking a breath, that because of his vision therapy program, her friend can now play soccer, ride a bike, make good grades and finish homework while it’s still light outside, which (she pointed out to him) is really important for kids who like to ride bikes and play soccer. Then, she threw her arms around him in a huge bear hug. She looked up at him with her eyes shining, a darling smile on her face, and said, “Thank you for everything!” The man was fighting back tears as he hugged Jillian, looking over her head at me. He gave me a quick nod and turned to leave and I knew that he felt Jillian’s appreciation all the way to his bones.
And now I know. And, more importantly, they know how truly grateful I am when I say, “Thank you for everything!”