Friday, August 23, 2013

Morning Fantasy - A Mother's Dream Come True

I was cleaning out my garage and found a journal with exactly one entry in it dated June 29, 2004. It hit me like a ton of bricks because while I haven’t thought about this particular fantasy in a while, it still has a very strong hold on my heart. Here’s a piece of it:

You are sleeping now. I love watching you sleep because you are so peaceful. Your arms are not flailing nor are your legs kicking. You aren’t arching your back or twisting your head side-to-side or thrusting your tongue. Your hands are soft and only slightly curled as they should be, not fisted into a sweaty ball. The only thing that moves is your skinny belly as you inhale then exhale so perfectly. So perfectly.

I had a flash, a split second, when I knew you were okay and the next morning you were gonna come running into my room with sleepies in your eyes. You would stand right next to my face, barely seeing over the top of the mattress with your tiny-people legs and your string-bean body. Your hair would be all mussed and your pajama bottoms waist band would be half-tucked inside out. You would put your face right next to mine and whisper to me, “Mommy, are you up?” I would feel your sweet breath roll over my cheeks and with eyes closed I would whisper back, “Not yet.” So you’d climb in, as quietly as a hurricane and whisper, “Move over bacon.” I would and you would cuddle up to me. After waiting patiently for 43 seconds you would half-whisper, half speak, “I’m hungry.” So we’d get up, walk to the kitchen side-by-side, your soft tiny hand holding mine, and you’d pull up a chair to the counter and show me how to make pancakes.

But of course that didn’t happen because that flash wasn’t reality. It  left just as quickly as it came and when it was gone I mourned for you. You are alive and I’m so grateful for you but I mourn for you. For my angel face, the most beautiful girl in the whole wide world. And nobody can help me. Nobody understands why I feel this way but I do. I would give anything and everything up for you to be well and happy.

Nine years later, I still have moments where I mourn for the coulda’s, woulda’s, shoulda’s. But much of my thinking has changed. I have often (and still do, at times) felt that I’m living on the same planet as the rest of the human race but that I live in a different world. Thanks largely to the internet, I know that there are others like me, who do understand why I feel the way that I do. Wishing for things to be different but having somewhat of a fear of getting what I think I'm wishing for. There is often a battle going on in my head between living life the way it is and wondering how it would be if it were different.

Although I don't know what my daughter's thoughts and dreams are, what is most important is that is well and she is happy. That is the greatest blessing of all.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Don't Hate The Cure, Hate the Haters!

I am so sick of people who look for "cures" or better treatments or a change in their medical treatment being looked at as vile creatures that should be relegated to the depths of all of Dante's realms for eternity.

People with disabilities are already stigmatized and often cut off from general society because of antiquated assumptions and prejudiced thought. Why must people with disabilities have to endure hateful accusations from people within their own communities???

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with my family here’s a tiny recap. My daughter is now 15 years old. She has cerebral palsy which affects all four limbs that was caused by an injury at birth aka doctor’s error. She is non-verbal, non-ambulatory and needs full assistance in every aspect of life. She is a beautiful, intelligent, loving, funny girl who is disabled. I had her when I was barely 20 years old and raised her on my own. It was hard. I mean, really tough. Forget the psychological price a parent pays, the physical bill is enough to make some people dine and ditch! I can’t imagine myself without my angel face but I would be lying if I said there weren’t days where I felt like I just couldn’t do it anymore.

I would also be lying if I said I don’t still wish there was a cure or miracle waiting out there for us. If I came across some medical procedure, medication, doctor, wand, fairy dust or crystal ball that would take the CP right out of her without the risk of death or something like that, I wouldn’t even take a second breath before I screamed out, “HELL YES!!” Why do other parents – especially those of children with autism I have come to discover – judge me, and others like me, for that? Why do people in the disability community insist on further alienating individuals in their community who WANT a change? One paraplegic may be fine with never walking again while another searches for the scientific breakthrough that can give her her mobility back again. Is the former a “better person” than the latter because she’s “come to terms” with her disability, “accepted what’s been dealt”? Is the latter “better” because she’s a “fighter” and “isn’t giving up”? Why does one have to be better than the other? Each one of you reading this makes decisions for your own life that you feel is in your best interest. Each one of you reading this makes decisions for your own life that you feel is in your best interest. I’m 100% sure that none of you like it when someone offers their thoughts on which direction you should go in, especially when you don’t even ask!

Those parents who say things like, “I would never cure my child because then they wouldn’t be who they are”. Really? Every circumstance in everyone’s life makes us who we are. The family I was born into, the way my parents spoke to me, the school I went to as a kid, the friends I made in high school, the jobs I held in my 20’s…all those things make me into who I am. And I’m still evolving. Who I am in 5 years will be different than who I am at this very instant. So yes, if a child is cured or healed of their illness/disease/disability, they WILL be a different child. Anything that happens TO him, FOR him, WITH him, BY him will change him, for better or worse, whether he has a disability or not

How can anyone automatically assume that they know beyond a shadow of a doubt what their kids’ desires are when that kid can’t vocalize them? And who are you to judge me and others like me for wanting our kids to be able to have a different life? Do these people not think that if my daughter was given the choice, she would choose to WALK? Do they not think that she would love to TALK, to HAVE FRIENDS, SLEEPOVERS and GIGGLE FESTS? Do they not think that she would choose to have an easier road so that putting on a shirt is not a struggle; so that eating is a matter of preference rather than a chore of organizing her lips, tongue and cheeks in a manner that would allow her to bite, chew and swallow without spilling, coughing or choking??

Yes, if she were a “normal” kid in a “normal” school, she would be different. Maybe she would have an attitude – teenagers often do. Maybe she would be a bookworm. Maybe she would be a tomboy or a princess. Who the hells knows? I wish I did. Don’t villainize me for wanting the best for my child. Isn’t that what a parent is supposed to want?