Amid great loss, Wanda Thompson and Christine Martin found each other.
Christine, a young woman with autism, was 17 years old at the time. Her grandmother had been her lifelong caregiver. But now, her grandmother had terminal cancer, and their days together were slipping away. Christine needed someone to be there for her. Wanda felt heartbroken by the tragedy of it all, especially since Wanda was losing her mother at the same time. Two women who had never met were losing the women who were most important in their own lives. It was in that moment—full of tragedy, heartache, and need—that DePaul connected the two.
In a moment of hurt and loss, a bond was built. Wanda, relying on her faith and the help of a lawyer and DePaul, fought to become Christine’s caregiver— something Christine’s grandmother had always wished for.
“She told me before she died, ‘I want someone who will enhance her life,’” said Wanda.
In January of 2013, Christine and Wanda officially began their journey together. They made space for each other in their lives and in their hearts.
These days, Christine is very social, attends a day support program, and spends time with her best friend. She loves to write music and take care of the garden. As her caregiver, Wanda encourages Christine to be independent, but also makes sure to set boundaries. The two are still navigating Christine’s transition to adulthood, which has been challenging.
“I’m constantly learning,” said Wanda.
Wanda struggles to imagine what her life would look like without Christine in it. They are so intertwined at this point that it is hard to picture life apart.
“It would be empty,” said Wanda. “It would be a whole different world.”
The story of Wanda and Christine is still being written every day. It is a story about the miracle of resilience, the miracle of people paying attention, the miracle of those who make space for others.