top of page
  • Writer's pictureKristen Cole

Seeing Unicorns

Unicorns largely live in the imaginations of children. They are magical, have beautiful rainbow-colored mains and tails and leap through forests with glitter trailing behind and around them. They cannot be captured and surely not ridden, but they are wildly sought after and deeply desired. Just out of our reach, their mysterious presence pulls those around them in like the undertow of the sea.

My affinity toward unicorns started about 4 years ago. Not being a “mystic,” the idea of relating to a unicorn really never crossed my mind. That is, until I met my patient, who I will call “Angel,” for protection of her privacy.

I have written about her in my head many times. I also wrote the eulogy for her funeral. Each time I sit down to write about her, I have a visceral response, one of pure emotion, the kind that silences out every other thing in space and time.

“Angel” was nearly two when I met her. She had, what we scientists in the medical field refer to as, an “n of one” diagnosis. This meant that she was the sample size. There were no other people like her to be our guide in how best to care for her. Her diagnosis was one that was poorly understood, hardly researched and filled to the brim with unknowns, uncertainties and fears.

I guess that’s what got me thinking about unicorns. Unicorns are also very poorly understood. They have been described as similar to many other animals – goats, horses, lions, bulls, oryx, antelopes, rhinoceroses, oxen and narwhals. Some scientists have hypothesized that a certain deer with a rare genetic mutation causing the development of a single horn instead of the more typical, two horns, started the legend of the unicorn.

My “Angel” also had a rare genetic mutation. She was a combination of so many more well-known disorders, but there were none documented exactly like hers. She was definitely mysterious. She was definitely difficult to capture and tame; partly because she had a movement disorder and was rarely still; partly because the complexity of her condition made every intervention I initiated complicated – as her every fiber was so deeply interwoven with the unknown.

I spent hours trying my hardest to understand my “Angel.” I read articles, I went to reputable websites, I asked more experienced providers in my field. I hit so many walls. I saw so many of my colleagues shrug their shoulders and walk away – confused, befuddled, complacent and content with the status quo – “Angel” was “as good as she was going to get” there was “nothing that could be done.” I could not accept this and I resolved to provide for my “Angel” the best quality of life possible.

I was determined to capture this little unicorn. I was determined to tame her little body. Surely there was an answer to bring her healing. My belief in God and His divine plan and purpose drove me. I leaned into the truth that God created each of us to be unique. And, he doesn’t make mistakes. We really are all “n of ones.” God knit us together in our mothers’ wombs, fearfully and wonderfully he made us. He knows all of our days and has the very hair on our heads numbered (Psalm 139:13, 14, 16; Luke 12:7). I believed this for my “Angel” as I do for all of my patients.

As I walked through the journey of her last 2 years, I slowly but surely began to understand why everyone cannot see unicorns. The unicorns I most encounter are people who are different; people who are complicated; people who don’t fit nicely into a little box with a big red bow on top.

It is a choice to see unicorns.

We have to get past ourselves and past our science. We have to become open to uniqueness and acceptance that some of our most fragile patients just want to be seen. They want to be heard, hugged, spoken to with respect – even if they cannot speak back. They want to be who they are and sometimes… they would do anything possible not to be who they are.

How many of us can really see unicorns? How many of us can get past our minds, our protocols, our standards, our benchmarks, our satisfaction surveys…and really see?

Seeing unicorns is similar to having faith. We have to get past ourselves and our science. We have to allow our deepest heart longings to take us to the place of surrender and acceptance. We have to let go of logic and tightly wound expectations and measures of worldly success. We have to go there, to that place, in the thick dark of the woods, where we look up, because up is the only place we can see light. And when we take the chance to look up, we see that unicorn race past us – pure white beauty, glowing, glittering, daring us to pursue it. And we do, because our hearts won’t dare hold us back like our minds would.

We allow our imagination to accept that there is more to our existence than this earth and the things that can been seen with just our eyes. Our imagination opens the door to our very souls, and we begin to realize that true beauty and purpose in this life can be seen only with our hearts.

Those who can see unicorns are said to have the gift of granted wishes. Seeing my “Angel” as a unicorn gave me a gift like no other. Her life ended on this earth after I could not tame her. Though I did see her, I could not grasp her intricacies in a way that lead to healing here on earth, rather in Heaven. Her life left a trail of glowing glitter to and from my heart that has enabled me to continue to see such unicorns. I now yearn for the chance to care for and try to capture and tame all of the “n of ones” I can gather.

Beautifully mysterious unicorns. I will always choose to see.

2014–2017 © National Center for Families Learning. Are Unicorns Real? Retrieved from

2008-2011© The Meaning of Unicorns: Greek, Chinese, Christian. Retrieved from

12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page