Episode 240: A Brave Little Warrior – The Story of a 4-Year-Old’s Amputation Journey
Episode 240: A Brave Little Warrior – The Story of a 4-Year-Old’s Amputation Journey
Description: Rosalie Mastaler was pushed into the world of disabilities when her son was bitten by his father’s K9 police dog. Tune in for the story of courage and how the family creates good and recognizes miracles from this loss.
Rosalie Mastaler learned about Disability Advocacy when her husband’s police dog bit her son, Hunter, on February 8, 2015. Despite the trauma, Rosalie and Hunter chose to accept his disability and continue on with life. Rosalie learned that she couldn’t change her son’s choice to accept his disability, but she could give him tools and opportunities to help him. Hunter eventually accepted his disability and learned that happiness is a choice and that resilience is a journey. Rosalie was inspired by Hunter’s ability to keep getting up and pushing forward, no matter how difficult or challenging the journey was.
Listen in to our discussion about:
1. How did a police dog bite Hunter and what were the rules around those dogs?
2. How did Rosalie and her husband cope with the guilt and the trauma of the situation?
3. How did Hunter’s journey of resilience help shape Rosalie’s perspective on life?
Visit Rosalie Mastaler’s Socials:
00:00:19 Lori: Welcome to the Love Your Story podcast. On this show, we share stories. We share stories of big adventures, stories of big struggles, stories that allow us to share our experiences and to learn from each other. And today’s guest, Rosalie Mass Taylor, was pushed into the world of disabilities when her oldest son was attacked by a police canine and he lost the lower part of his left leg. She and her family now focus on being advocates for those with disabilities and helping people to keep hope was a big thing.
00:00:55 Lori: When Hunter, this is her son, became an amputee at just four years old, his parents had to negotiate a host of feelings, including guilt and grief and worry for how their son was going to adapt. The loss of his lower leg altered their lives and how they cared for him, of course. But Rosalie and Michael, his dad, soon realized that the most powerful tool that they could offer Hunter was resilience. I’m really interested about this resilience topic because it’s so big for all of us. So stay tuned for their story and a peek at the Mass Taylor Party of Five.
00:00:43 Lori: Stories are our lives and language. Welcome to the Love Your Story podcast. I’m Lori Lee, and I’m excited for our future together of telling stories, evaluating our own stories, and lifting ourselves and others to greater places because of our control over our stories. This podcast is about empowerment and giving you the listener ideas to work with in making your stories work for you. Story power serves you best when you know how to use it.
00:02:25 Lori: Mass Taylor Party of Five is the social media presence of the Mass Taylor family and their story. In 2015, Michael, that’s the dad in this story, his police dog attacked Hunter, their four year old son. And the bite was so severe that they were forced to amputate his left leg below the knee. Seeing their names and their pictures in the news articles and the stories across the world was mortifying. And all they wanted was privacy to recover in peace.
00:02:54 Lori: As Hunter began to heal and adapt, they felt inspired to share their journey of hope in finding joy. They knew they were more than a tragedy. And so today, we get to talk with Mama Mass Taylor herself. Rosalie, welcome to the Love Your Story podcast.
00:03:12 Rosalie: Hi, Lori. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.
00:03:15 Lori: Absolutely. Let’s jump right in with your story. Take us to what happened.
00:03:24 Rosalie: We’re actually about to, I say celebrate the 8th anniversary of that day. We call it Hunter’s, A Live Day. It’s almost like another birthday for him. So on February 8, 2015, I get a phone call from my husband saying that his police dog bit Hunter. And Hunter was four years old at the time like you had said. And I’m like, all right, I was out running a quick errand. And I’m like, okay, tell me what hospital. I need to meet you guys at.
00:03:57 Rosalie: He was very calm. But I mean he had been a police officer for over a decade by then. He knew how to handle these situations. And his calmness definitely kept me calm but it also didn’t give me any inclination of how severe the situation was.
00:04:14 Lori: Well, tell me really quick. How were Hunter and the police dog interacting? What prompted it?
00:04:22 Rosalie: We don’t know. There’s a lot of misconceptions with police dogs. I think this is a good place to start because there are some police dogs that are just used to sniff things, whether it’s drugs or bombs. Those could be very nice dogs like bloodhounds. You can go up to them and pet them and they’re not going to care. But then you also have dogs that are trained to bite and train to go after that suspect and help the police officer contain them and take them down.
00:04:53 Rosalie: And the police dog that my husband had was one of those. He was trained to be a bite dog. And those dogs have tons of rules around them. They don’t typically like to take them out to community events just because there’s a lot of rifts with it as it being in our home, the family does not interact with it. It is not a family dog. It is not a pet. It was my husband’s partner. And if he wasn’t at work with him in his police unit training, then he was at home locked up in his kennel.
00:05:25 Rosalie: Now to give some backstory of how it happened was my husband had been working at a bootcamp that weekend and it’s with troubled teens in his city. So I’m sure you can imagine how taxing that was on him for that weekend. It’s only him and a few other officers that run it. And it’s the very first weekend and he had been gone all weekend. And so that meant Django hadn’t been with his partner all weekend.
00:05:51 Rosalie: We can only assume how Django was feeling when Michael came home and let him out. Probably very much wanted to be let out of his cage. So Michael came home, let him out of his cage. I told him, I’m running a quick errand. I’m taking my younger son, who was about 18 months at the time. He said, I’m going to leave Hunter here with you. Because Hunter, he was over four and a half, very capable of turning on the TV and just sitting there and doing his own thing. He was very, very independent.
00:06:20 Rosalie: Michael went up to take a shower. Because like I said, he’d been gone at a camp all weekend. And Hunter did not realize that I had left. And so he went looking for me. And it was very, very odd that he went looking in the backyard because we don’t use our backyard. It was a smaller backyard. We rarely even played out there. I rarely went out there. But for some reason, he went looking in the backyard and Django was out there.
00:06:46 Rosalie: No one was around. No one knows how it happened. He tries to describe the event sometimes. But all I can assume is that he looked out the door and Django saw him. And Django’s queue is that door opens and he makes his journey from that back door to the police unit, which is through the house to the garage.
00:07:08 Rosalie: Whenever that happened, me and the kids always stood back. We kept our distance. And he knew it was just a beeline to the car. That’s how he was trained. So my guess is he opened the door. Django saw the door open, tried to go inside. And Hunter put out his leg to put some distance between them and Django put down on his leg.
00:07:28 Lori: Were there any repercussions for Django?
00:07:30 Rosalie: No, there were not. There was talk of them and yeah, there were not.
00:07:36 Lori: Okay, so go on with your story. I sidetracked you there.
00:07:40 Rosalie: No, you’re totally fine because that’s usually a very common question. And usually, people wonder, what did happen with him? He went to the previous owner, the previous handler. He was out of our lives pretty much instantly. There are zero bitter feelings towards him. He’s a dog.
00:07:56 Lori: He did what he was trained to do.
00:07:58 Rosalie: And animals are animals. And we still love them. And people often wonder too, does Hunter still like dogs? He loves them. He loves them. He will pet them.
00:08:05 Lori: Oh, good.
00:08:06 Rosalie: Yeah. Anyways, so I get the phone call. And I just thought, oh, it was probably a little snap. He probably just needs stitches. Tell me where I’m going to the hospital. So a few phone calls went back and forth. Michael stayed very calm. And finally, we get to a phone call where I’m hearing people talking in the background. And I’m like, who is in the background? And he said, It’s the paramedics.
00:08:30 Rosalie: And that’s when I’m like, why are there paramedics at our house? What is going on? And he said, Rosalie, just get home as soon as you can. And I’m like, I want to know what’s going on. And he had to hang up the phone because I think he’s trying to coordinate everything, calls me back, and I hear him talking to the paramedic. And he said, where are you landing the bird? And I knew they were bringing in a helicopter for him.
00:08:56 Rosalie: And that’s when I lost it. That’s when I knew my son’s life is in danger. I just need to get to him as soon as possible. Luckily, I was not the one driving. I happened to be with Michael’s younger brother. He ran the errand with me. So he was driving and he drove us to the airport where the helicopter was. And I got there just in time for them to take off and take me and Hunter to the hospital.
00:09:20 Lori: Wow. I can only imagine.
00:09:22 Rosalie: Yeah.
00:09:22 Lori: So what happened from there?
00:09:24 Rosalie: It was a very quick 12-minute ride to the hospital. There were a lot of very sincere and some very specific moments from that drive to the hospital, to the airport, and then lifting us up to the hospital. The moment I got to Michael and he met me at the truck before we got to Hunter. And that interaction with him will stay with me for the rest of my life because he broke down.
00:09:56 Rosalie: And Michael, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen him crying. And we’re high school sweethearts. We have known each other for many, many years. And it was a look on his face that I had never, ever seen before. And it was just guilt and pain and just so many words that I can’t even fully describe how he looked. And the first thing he said to me is, it’s all my fault.
00:10:21 Rosalie: And I felt so bad for him because nobody wants that guilt placed on their shoulders. And I immediately told him without any hesitation, I will never blame you for this. And I felt that so strongly and I still feel that. And there’s never been a moment of blame. And we had a very brief moment together, very intimate. And then I got to Hunter right away. They got us on the helicopter. We lifted up. I was just trying my best to stay calm and to breathe.
00:10:52 Rosalie: And as we lifted up, there was this big, not necessarily mountains, but there’s a small mountain range from where the airport was to get us to the children’s hospital because there was not one in our area. And it’s just very clear. There’s not really a city. And the sun was setting. You can see, through the clouds, the sun and the mountains. And I just remember looking out the window and looking at the colors in the sky.
00:11:20 Rosalie: And I just knew that I was seeing God. And I just cried out to him. I said, please, I see you. I know that this is you. Please, protect my little boy. And I knew that He would. I knew that He would. I didn’t know what that meant, but I just knew that He would protect him. And that moment of faith, I was able to hold on to that in the very beginning and to just hold on to it throughout the whole journey of everything.
00:11:49 Lori: So how was Hunter doing?
00:11:51 Rosalie: By the time I got to him, he was pretty sedated, so very quiet. I don’t think he even really noticed if I was there. So yes, because I think they shot him up with morphine pretty quick when they got to him. So by the time I got to him, he’s just very calm. I don’t even remember him saying anything to me.
00:12:08 Lori: So how long did it take before you knew you were going to have to have the leg amputated? And was all that decided pretty quickly?
00:12:15 Rosalie: No. So we get there and they rush him in right away. I knew they were going to get him into surgery, and they had me signed the consent form. And at this point, I was there by myself because Michael couldn’t get in the helicopter with us. And a lot of it was a blur. And I just remember them reading out these things, okay, we’re going to try and do this and this and this and this. And then at the very end of the consent form, it said, and if we have to, we will amputate his leg.
00:12:42 Rosalie: That’s all I remember. I almost passed out. They caught me, sat me down in a chair. I scribbled my name and I could not fathom it. I could not imagine my child losing a limb. So they got him into surgery. They tried everything they could to repair everything. But they came out and they said, we’ve done everything we can. But we don’t know if the blood flow is going to return through those veins. And what happens with small pediatric bodies when there’s a rupture and a wound like that is there’s an elasticity to the veins that closes them up pretty quick so they don’t bleed out.
00:13:22 Rosalie: So it saved his life, but he lost his leg because of it. So it took about three days. And on February 11, his foot was just turning black and blue because there was no blood flow. And on February 11 is when they made the call, this is what we have to do, or else he’s going to lose more of his leg, or there’s going to be infection. And it’s just going to get worse. And they amputated it that day.
00:13:45 Lori: Wow. So how did you and Michael do that day?
00:13:48 Rosalie: So that day, I think it was a miracle that we survived that day. I remember the day before and the days leading up to it, all I wanted to do was just cry nonstop. Just so many emotions. Whenever anyone talked to me, I just felt I just wanted to cry and cry and cry as my son lay in the hospital bed. We didn’t know what was going to happen. It never pointed to him keeping his leg, but I still wanted to have faith that he would.
00:14:21 Rosalie: And so it was so many torn feelings and emotions of, I want this miracle, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. So the night before, I just remember being so upset thinking, how did this happen? We knew that it was going to happen that day. In the morning, Michael came in because I would stay the night at the hospital with him. So he came in that morning and we just sat there by Hunter’s bed, and I just cried out to Michael.
00:14:51 Rosalie: And I’m like, this just isn’t fair. It’s not fair for him. I just don’t understand. And Michael so calmly, and it just seemed like he was so empowered by faith, said to me, this is Heavenly Father’s way of protecting him. And we went through all of the things that could have happened. He could have been bitten on different parts of his body. He could have died. He could have bled out. He could have lost more than just the bottom of his leg. We thought of all of our blessings and how he’s still alive. And that was it. We just went into it with that faith.
00:14:35 Lori: That’s beautiful. Yeah. So let me ask this then as a comparison. What was the hardest part of this for you and then what was the most beautiful part of it for you?
00:15:45 Rosalie: The part initially, the trauma wise? Is that what you’re referring to?
00:15:51 Lori: Whatever you went.
00:15:52 Rosalie: Whatever it went. Okay.
00:15:54 Lori: The whole experience. You talked about being able to purposefully transition into a space of gratitude and restructuring the story so that it was supportive of you, which is such a fabulous resilient skill. So you showed that right off the bat. And in doing so, obviously, with these kinds of events, with the hard stuff in our lives, there’s always things that we learn and get things out of it. And so what is the thing that has been the best for you? And then what was the low point as well? Just so we have this comparison.
00:16:27 Rosalie: Yeah, so I’ll start with the low point. So we can get to the happier part. I think the hardest thing was watching him struggle and realizing that it was his choice whether or not to accept his disability. And I could not change that. I could give him tools and introduce him to people and provide him with opportunities that I think would help. But I learned a lot about agency because no matter what I did, sometimes I felt he just wasn’t choosing to accept it. And it took months and months and months before he took his first step, which is our big moment of, okay, he’s starting to accept it.
00:17:19 Rosalie: And then there were still a lot more ups and downs after that. But that was really tough to watch him struggle. We had made the decision for ourselves of, this is what’s going to happen to our son, and we’re going to try and move forward. But we can only take him with us together. We can’t drag him along.
00:17:41 Lori: I absolutely understand that, yep. Any parent, who’s had children suffer or struggle with something, you know how hard it is to watch that struggle.
00:17:53 Rosalie: Yeah. And I really had to learn as a mother that stuff’s going to happen to my kids. And I still have to make sure that I take care of myself so that I can best support them. Because if I let everything that they’re doing, in a sense affect me so much, that I can’t be a support for them, then I’m not doing everything I can as a mother to help lift them. Does that make sense?
00:18:23 Lori: Absolutely. And I think it’s a brilliant thing to point out. Because so often, when we’re really caught up in that worry and concern, it just bleeds the energy out of you to adjust your energy to do things that will lift you up and give you the strength to keep going, even to find joy amidst they’re struggling so that you can still provide a safe and optimistic space for them. It’s hard work.
00:18:51 Rosalie: Yeah. It really was and just so many learning experiences. And I think that’s really what I learned was that happiness is truly a choice. And you can’t depend on anyone else to make you happy. You have to figure out how you’re going to make yourself happy. So Hunter now, fast forward, he’s 12 years old. And he’s going through a little bit of a rut right now. In his mind, it’s definitely a big rut. And it is. It totally is.
00:19:26 Rosalie: But he ended up having surgery again on his leg in December. There was an infection. There was a wound. And it was just all these things. So he had surgery again. And now, he has to wait for a new leg. And that is very hard for a very active 12-year-old. And now, all of a sudden, it took away his mobility and he can’t walk. And he’s just kept having a lot of moments of, this sucks. And I would support that. Yes, this sucks. You are very validated in thinking that.
00:19:51 Rosalie: But you have two choices. You can either wallow in your pity and not be happy, or you can choose to move forward. We have a date of when you’re getting that leg. Just look to that date. Get through one day at a time. Get through one little moment at a time because this is your choice of how you’re going to handle this.
00:20:11 Lori: So you said, “Through these past years, Hunter has taught our family a hard but vital lesson. Sometimes when you fall, you don’t always get up right away. And that is okay. The important part is getting up and trying again and again. And that has taken more strength and courage than I have ever had.” Tell me about that.
00:20:32 Rosalie: After the amputation and we accepted it. I think we just thought, okay, we’re just going to move forward and just be hunky-dory about it all. But then it was a struggle to get his leg and to get him up and walking on his leg. And then he started walking. And then it was great. And then he had an age where he noticed his differences and then we dropped again. And that was another fall.
00:20:56 Rosalie: And so we had to help him through that. He went through therapy. And he went talk to mentors. And then he got up again. And there’s been so many moments, and that’s all of our lives, right? But these falls were just so unexpected and nothing that we ever thought we would encounter. But the fact that he just keeps getting up and keeps pushing forward, he’s learning that you can have hard times and you can still get up no matter how hard that time is and no matter how difficult, no matter how challenging. And that has taught me so much as a person. And I look up to him so much for doing that.
00:21:41 Lori: So basically, what we’re talking about is resilience. And you had mentioned somewhere that it was a number one tool. What does that mean to you in your life and in Hunter’s life?
00:21:51 Rosalie: I think exactly what we just said, just to keep trying, to keep going. Resilience is a journey. It’s not a destination. Just like healing and just like grieving, I think they all go hand in hand. And knowing that every journey is going to be different. And I think there’s a misconception with children in particular. There is that saying, oh, children are so resilient. And that bothered me because my kid wasn’t getting up right away. He did not get his leg and start walking right away.
00:22:21 Rosalie: I’m like, what the heck? Everyone says kids are resilient. I think that misconception is kids are physically resilient. Their bodies were built to be physically resilient because of their youthfulness and how anatomy works, our bodies work. That’s why their scrapes heal faster than ours. That’s just how it is.
00:22:42 Rosalie: But mentally and emotionally, it’s not a given. Kids can take some time and take longer to accept things and to be resilient than adults. I think we need to recognize that and not just think, my kid is going through a hard time. Oh, they’re resilient. They’ll just get up and bounce back. We need to make sure that we really, truly support them and we really know how difficult it is for them because it’s not. We can’t just think, oh, just get up and throw some dirt on it. Be okay with the fact that they’re struggling.
00:23:17 Lori: I think that the reason that speaking about resilience so much on the podcast for me is important is because in the day and age that we’re in, there is so much resiliency that is required. And when someone does not have that resiliency, well, let’s just say the high number of suicides, right? The high number of people who decide, I can’t deal with whatever it is that they have before them.
00:23:41 Lori: So much as I speak with people who have hard things, the redeeming or like you say, the number one tool, really to make it through hard things is that resiliency. So coming to understand, having discussions about it, sharing stories about it, coming to understand what resiliency looks like. I think it’s very important to all of us because we’re all going to have different types of hard times.
00:24:05 Lori: But they will try us and take us to our places where we’re on our knees, just grappling with our darkest spaces. And so understanding what that looks like is really important. But I think your point is also really important that we don’t always bounce back superfast. The bouncing back is the important part, but the fact that there’s space for grieving. There is space for oftentimes forgiveness for something doesn’t come until there’s time built in.
00:24:39 Lori: And the grieving something, it’s not like, okay, that happened last week. Now, I should be up and going. There’s a space for all of those emotions. There’s a space for the trying to struggle. Building emotional and mental strength is like building physical strength also where you work at it. You work at it. You work at it. And I think that’s an important part of resiliency that you’ve just brought up. So thank you for that.
00:25:05 Lori: I wanted to talk about, you had mentioned that looking for miracles beyond what you pray for was a really important part of your journey. And I’d love to hear more about that.
00:25:15 Rosalie: Miracles as a whole, we think about going back to Christ time. He healed the lepers. He made the blind man see. He brought people back from the dead, but he didn’t do that for everybody. And that doesn’t mean that the blind man, next to the person, who could see, that was healed, is any less of a person. I’ve had to understand that miracles will happen. Sometimes, it’s not the miracles we pray for, but it’s the miracles that we need. And that will help us to become who we’re supposed to become.
00:25:58 Rosalie: When I was praying for the miracle for Hunter, my miracle is very straightforward. I don’t want him to lose his leg. Heavenly Father, please, help him to keep his leg. And I did not receive that miracle. So then we had to switch to different miracles of, okay, that miracle did not happen. But miracles still did happen. And we wanted. We chose to see Heavenly Father’s hand in our life still. We chose to see those miracles beyond what we were praying for, or else we would have lost our faith. I really believe that. And I think that’s just what it came down to.
00:26:37 Lori: So what was it you think you needed? You said, we don’t get what we want. We get what we need. What have you gotten out of this that you needed?
00:26:46 Rosalie: I think it’s all about Hunter’s path and Hunter’s journey. Hunter would not be who he is today without going through what he went through. And that is everyone’s experience, I think. I mean, I don’t really necessarily like the saying, oh, it happens for a reason. But I do believe that there are experiences in our lives that help to mold us and help us to become better. And it’s for our good.
00:27:13 Rosalie: And Hunter, like I said, is a very remarkable young man. And he’s still a very average young man as well. I feel sometimes people will meet him and they’ve only seen him on social media. And I’m like, okay, he’s still very much an awkward 12-year-old, who isn’t necessarily very well-spoken or anything like that. But I think Hunter has a journey and a past that is still unfolding. His story is still being written. And it wouldn’t be what it is without him losing his leg.
00:27:48 Lori: And do you see clearly that this is what he needed to develop? I mean, I think that’s a really hard question because you’re not at the end of the story. You don’t have 20 years to look back and say, these are the reasons he needed to learn those lessons, or these are the reasons that he needed to be super strong. Because he had this really big thing, he needed to be resilient for later in his life or something, right? You don’t have that perspective yet.
00:28:14 Rosalie: Yeah, yeah. I mean, but it has been eight years. Like I said, every year when we get to his Alive Day, we really reflect. And we say, okay, if you didn’t lose your leg, would we know this person? If you didn’t lose your leg, would you be like this? And we think about all the ways his life has been affected in a good way from losing his leg. And it really gives us perspective. We’ve really seen.
00:28:42 Rosalie: I mean, just the people that we’ve met alone from this community and our advocacy, too. Like you had said in the introduction, our advocacy is a big part of our lives. It is something that I feel so passionate about, that seen for myself, that I rarely stick to things. I just like to bounce from one passion project to the next. But this advocacy has been something that I have not wavered on and that I truly love and see myself doing for the rest of my life.
00:29:13 Lori: Okay, so tell us about that. What is the work you’re doing with the disabled community?
00:29:18 Rosalie: So our biggest thing is representation in media, but specifically literature. And we know the importance of not only kids being able to see themselves on a page or on screen, but for other kids to see people who are not like them. Our book is coming out this year. We do have a book coming out. If only that kid had read our book before they met Hunter, they might not have been scared of him, or they might not be in so much shock, or they might not have made that comment or asked such an awkward question. Representation.
00:29:56 Lori: So it’s helping the non-disabled understand how to interact with the disabled? I know that’s using a lot of labels.
00:30:09 Rosalie: No, that’s fine. Terms are always changing, and I have to keep up on it myself. And I’m in the community. So yes and no. Disability. I always say disability. Disability is huge because it normalizes it. It also gives people a chance to realize that Hunter leads a pretty, normal life. He’s happy. There’s been times where a kid went up to him and was like, I’ll pray for you.
00:30:39 Rosalie: And Hunter was like, okay, I’m not in pain. I’m not living a depressed life. I’m pretty much a normal kid. But in that kid’s mind, he felt like, oh, that kid has a disability. I should probably pray for him. Don’t get me wrong. Praying is great, but I’m sure you see what I mean. There’s a lot of pity surrounding the disability community. There’s a lot of misconceptions. There’s a lot of, oh, that person is in a wheelchair. They probably don’t have that great of a life.
00:31:14 Rosalie: That’s not true. And that’s where we want to help with our advocacy is with literature and books. And also, just having a platform of Hunter making fun of the fact that he’s missing a leg because it’s totally a joke in our home. And it’s okay. We can all laugh about it.
00:31:33 Lori: Mass Taylor Party of Five is where you’re found on social media, right? And you’re primarily on Instagram.
00:31:38 Rosalie: Yes.
00:31:40 Lori: So if people want to follow you, that’s where they look for you, right? And then tell me about this book. Do you have more when you say that you’re reaching out into literature? Do you have more than this one book? Are there other writings? Are there groups you’re involved with? What kind of book is this?
00:31:57 Rosalie: So when I say we’re involved in literature, we’re involved in writing and publishing books that have disability inclusion. But to further talk about that is we really want it to be entertaining for kids and also not have it be this dry learning experience because that’s where kids don’t learn. And we are really trying to put books out there that are just fun for kids to read. And we’ll see a kid with Linda friends in a book and have that spark conversations.
00:32:30 Rosalie: We are also just big supporters of authors with disabilities in general and just trying to find books that will help readers just get to know the disability community and just see a character with the disability. So we try and talk about all the books we find that we love and we feel is positive representation. And then we have our own books. And so we have a picture book that’s for a younger audience called Hunter’s Tall Tales, where Hunter goes to school and he’s getting asked all these questions about his leg.
00:33:02 Rosalie: And he makes up these crazy stories about him. He didn’t eat enough vegetables so his legs didn’t grow. Or he’s part robot and that’s why his legs look like a robot leg. And then there’s pictures of his family. And his dad’s a robot. And his dog is a robot. And then he gets the one question that leaves him speechless, which is, hey, what’s your name? And that’s the whole turning point of the book of like, thank you for just asking me my name and not about my leg.
00:33:28 Rosalie: And so we want kids to see disabilities, but we don’t want them to see just the disability. Like I said, we just want it normalized. Imagine if their favorite TV show had a character with a limb difference on it. It would seem so normal. So, yeah, that’s mainly what we’re doing. I have to say, too. We have two books coming out this year. The second book is for an older audience. It’s nonfiction, and it’s about famous people with disabilities. They’re artists, adventurers, scientists, dancers, all these different people with all different backgrounds. Because we want people to know about these amazing people, and they’re not very well-known.
00:34:05 Lori: I love that. That sounds wonderful. Where do people find these books? Is it just by following you on Instagram that these things are going to pop up, or where do they go?
00:34:13 Rosalie: Yeah. So we’ll definitely be talking about them on Instagram once they are published. The nonfiction one, with all the collection of biographies, will be out in July. And it’ll be anywhere you want to buy a book, whether it’s on Amazon, on Target, Barnes and Noble. It’ll be all those places online. And then Hunter’s Tall Tales will come out this fall.
00:34:33 Lori: Well, awesome. This fall meaning 2023, right?
00:34:37 Rosalie: Yes
00:34:38 Lori: Okay. Well, thank you for being here. Do you have any final things you’d like to share before we close?
00:34:45 Rosalie: One of the things that we really held onto, that we really just try to tell people is there’s always room for joy. No matter how hard of a time it is, there’s always that glimpse of light. You can always look for that light. You can always look for that joy. And to know that joy and sadness can coexist because we don’t need to be thinking, oh, well, I feel happy that he’s alive. But I’m sad that he lost his leg.
00:35:12 Rosalie: That’s okay. That’s okay that you’re feeling both of those feelings. So there’s room for joy amidst that sadness and pain and whatever else you’re feeling. And also, hope is never in vain. I just remember hoping so hard that he would not lose his leg. And then finally, when it came to the time where he lost his leg, he was like, well, what happened? I hoped. I hoped and I prayed. And I had all this faith. Why wasn’t it enough?
00:35:40 Rosalie: And sometimes, we have to realize that our faith and our hope, we can still have it. And we don’t get what we hope for, and we don’t get what we pray for. But it’s never in vain because it’s exercising that faith and that act of hoping for something good.
00:35:59 Lori: How do you deal with that space of, when you pray and you feel you have the right to ask for certain things and the things you want and need so badly? It’s as if those prayers were not heard. Or did you feel that they were heard and just that it needed to go a different direction? Or did you feel they just weren’t heard?
00:36:18 Rosalie: That is such a great question because that has been something that I’ve really had to wrestle with. And it has been a long journey. And the best thing that I have been able to come up with is our relationship with God is very much a daughter, a child, and a parent. And I think of my kids. And I think no matter what their desires are, no matter what they want, I want them to come with me. Come to me with those desires.
00:37:10 Rosalie: They might not get what they want, but I still want them to build that relationship with me. It’s all about relationships. And knowing that even though you asked for something and it wasn’t answered, it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t heard. And it doesn’t mean that your relationship has failed. And that’s the best thing that I’ve been able to come up with for myself.
00:36:49 Lori: That’s a very faithful approach. Thank you. Okay. As we close off the show here, I wanted to end with a quote from Christopher Reeves. So he used to play Superman, remember? He said, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” I love that because it sums all of this up.
00:37:38 Lori: A hero is an ordinary individual who keeps standing up. Like you said, keep standing up over and over. So whether your challenge is depression or anxiety, a lost limb, the death of someone you love, an addiction, whatever yours is, the perseverance to keep getting up every day, to keep hoping, to keep using faith, to keep trying a little something more, to accept the hard and the good, looking for the gratitude in there like Rosalie has just shared with us, this is what makes us the heroes of our stories.
00:38:15 Lori: So your challenge this week is to pat yourself on the back and acknowledge the work that you’re doing, to keep hoping and to keep having faith, and to keep trying through the hard stuff. You keep getting up every day. And even though those days are filled with a mix of the happy and the difficult, you keep getting up and keep learning and stretching and growing and strengthening that muscle of resiliency.
00:38:44 Lori: You’ve got this. Share this episode with someone in your world. Sharing is caring, people. So taking a minute just to forward this to somebody who needs a little support in what they’re going through is a big move. So spread the love and we will see you in two weeks for the next episode of the Love Your Story podcast. Thanks for being here.
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