A Mature Love Shown by Teenagers

This Christmas may seem a little, perhaps a lot, disappointing to average Americans. It is a year of hardship shared by many. The road ahead looks difficult just like the road left behind us. However, as is often the case when we get a glimpse of life from another perspective, we realize how good we truly have it, economic troubles and sacrifices notwithstanding.

This is the story of a 16 yr. old girl and a 15 yr. old boy. Ordinary they would be if these were ordinary times. Sabrina Parker loves roller coasters, skating, volleyball and softball. She has hazel eyes and brown hair. Sabrina is, in effect, the girl next door, perhaps even the young lady in your home.

Matt Scozzari is a typical teen boy. Yet circumstances have given him a choice to run from hardship and pain or to rise above his contemporaries. Fortunately for Sabrina, Matt chose the latter. This is their story and its timing is no coincidence.

Before going any further, Matt and Sabrina are not perfect teenagers. I am sure they wrestle with sin like the rest of us. Please don’t get that impression. Yet, these two imperfect adolescents have set an example, Matt especially, that will move you to tears and challenge you to thank God for what and who you have.

What made the difference is that Sabrina has a genetic abnormality that tested her above many of her peers. A year before she was born, her maternal grandmother died of it. When she was just a toddler, Sabrina lost her mother to it as well. It is Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Raised by her paternal grandparents after her mother’s death, Sabrina was well taken care of and loved beyond degree. Her grandparents, Noland and Zelma Parker lived in dread of the possibility that Sabrina would fall to it as well. However, Sabrina continued to grow and showed no signs of the dreaded disease.

By June 2009, Sabrina began complaining about earaches. Her speech was impacted and she was difficult to understand. She was taken to a specialist but nothing was found to be wrong. After more problems arose, her grandparents mentioned the medical history within the family. Long story short, a leader in this field of medical study came to the conclusion they all had been hoping wasn’t true: Sabrina had Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Matt had entered the picture before the diagnosis. He had finally got up the nerve to ask her out. She said yes and they began to see one another. Sabrina worried that she would lose him too, after losing so much already and being made to make choices like whether to have a ventilator within the next six months and how aggressively to fight this. It wasn’t Sabrina who broke the news to Matt but two of her friends with tears in their eyes. Matt broke down too and Sabrina went to him and asked him if he was going to leave. To her surprise and delight he said no.

Matt’s parents were worried about how involved Matt was getting with a girl who wasn’t going to live long. His mother was a hospice volunteer who shared with Matt what was likely to happen in the near future. Matt’s response was that he just couldn’t walk out on her, not now, not when she needed him so much. Audrey Scozzari advised her son that this was her journey to take and her decisions to make. He could travel the road with her but he couldn’t tell her what to do.

After Sabrina got a tracheotomy, was told to consider a ventilator and to draft a living will, Matt’s mother told him to be prepared. Sabrina sought to ease Matt’s concern by saying it was no big deal, that the tube was just to get her weight back up. However, Matt’s mom knew better. He needed to be ready for what lie ahead. “I will never leave you, no matter what,” Matt reassured Sabrina. This young man was willing to accompany this young woman through an ordeal that would greatly impact them both.

Audrey gave her son an idea, after hearing of Matt and Sabrina talking about the future; of marriage and children and what life could be like together. She explained that though that may not be impossible, it was impractical. Yet there was something called a friendship ceremony. It would help Sabrina get a taste of what a wedding would be like. Matt loved the idea but wanted to ask for permission from her grandparents. Though not thrilled, they consented.

In one month things began to happen so fast. Two weeks before the ceremony, Matt went to see Sabrina and told her that though it would sadden him, it was okay for her to stop fighting. It was on Nov. 20 that the friendship ceremony was held; it was beautiful and each expressed their love for each other. By Thanksgiving Day, Sabrina’s health took a nose dive. By Saturday she couldn’t raise her head.

It was around midnight on Nov. 29 when the Parkers called Matt to their home. He was with Sabrina throughout the night, holding her hand and telling her he would be okay. While Sabrina slept, she entered her eternal destiny. When the hearse arrived, Matt kissed her on the forehead and said, “Thank you for saving me.”
Sabrina Parker was buried in her sweet 16 dress. On the pillow, right next to her head, Matt placed a rose. Young Matt kept his word to Sabrina; he was with her until the end and he didn’t regret a day of it.

How is Matt doing, the boy who said he would be okay? Though he struggled with a learning disability and was thought to be slightly autistic, had trouble reading and his words would often jumble up, Matt studied this disease. He asked for a meeting with the ALS chapter president of Raleigh and spoke of his desire to set up a fund in Sabrina’s memory. As he sleeps, Matt can often be heard calling out Sabrina’s name.

My prayer: Lord God, be with Matt. You know his heart, his sacrifice and his pain. Fill him with Your joy, O God. May he get to know You and through knowing You, may he have greater strength, greater purpose and greater comfort.

And help us, O God, to realize what we have. This Christmas may be a lean one. For some, it may even seem downright awful. However, we have You, Lord, and we have your Son born to save us from our sins. And in our homes and in our lives are families and friends that You have graciously given to us. Thank you, God! Thank you. Help us to show that gratitude, to You and to them, this Christmas season. In the Savior’s name we pray, Amen.”

For more information on this story: http://news.yahoo.com/video/us-15749625/first-person-disease-pushes-young-couple-to-love-23568294

And http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40665118/ns/health-health_care/

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