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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

On Friday mornings we bring you StoryCorps, when people across the country share stories about their lives. And today, two parents remember their daughter.

Liddie Horsey was born with a rare genetic disorder. It's called Cornelia de Lange Syndrome. It held her back developmentally. And at eight years old, Liddie was still fed by her parents. She could only speak one word - mama. That same year she became ill and died.

Hear her parents, Thom Horsey and Karen Manning Horsey, talk about how Liddie changed their lives.

Mr. THOM HORSEY: Oh, I'm so mad that we didn't take more videos now of her. You know, but who would know? It's so funny to look at when she first started walking. What was she, 28 months I think, when she first started walking. It was over two years, I know.

Ms. KAREN MANNING HORSEY: Right. Because they said if she didn't walk by 24 months…

Mr. HORSEY: That she wouldn't walk.

Ms. HORSEY: That she wouldn't walk. And, as usual, Liddie did things on her own time schedule. And at 28 month, remember? She started to walk around that coffee table.

Mr. HORSEY: Right. For hours and hours.

Ms. HORSEY: And then all of a sudden, she started to (unintelligible). She would just hold on and make circles and circles.

Mr. HORSEY: Yeah.

Ms. HORSEY: And bang things on the table. And then she started to take her steps and she was so happy. And that's when I knew to throw out those stupid milestone books and that Liddie would just be Liddie and I would just be happy and rejoicing in every little thing she did and not to worry about those stupid books with their stupid milestones, because you can't live your life measuring your child against the norm.

Mr. HORSEY: The thing I remember is how she developed, and how she learned to walk into the classroom and went right to her chair and just sat right down, how she pulled it out. She knew exactly what to do. And I don't see Liddie not speaking as a loss because she was so expressive. I mean, she was always laughing and giggling. You know, it doesn't strike me as that was anything that was missing in a way, because she was so active and expressive and - oh, God, she laughed so much, geez. You know?

Ms. HORSEY: And I think that's the thing I miss the most is. Without speaking, how her soul could fill the house and you just knew she was there.

Mr. HORSEY: I could tell where she was by the sound of the door or whatever she was banging or, you know.

Ms. HORSEY: If you think about it, Thom, in eight years, she profoundly changed who you and I are and how we live our lives. If she was sitting here, what I would say is thank you for making me a mom.

Mr. HORSEY: Yeah.

Ms. HORSEY: It was the greatest experience I'll ever have.

INSKEEP: Karen Manning Horsey and Thom Horsey at StoryCorps in Richmond, Virginia. All StoryCorps interviews are archived at the Library of Congress, and you can subscribe to the project's podcast by going to our Web site, npr.org.

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