individual

Poems

Had a job
Worked at school
Stopped for baby
All was cool

Had #2
For #1
And then we found
It wasn't so much fun

Little guy
Seemed kinda shy
No, it couldn't be
Its not what I see (PDD?)

Numbly walked
Through the year
Slowly gained
Reluctant cheer

This isn't so bad
I got this
I've helped others before
I know what's in store

But teaching is one thing
Parenting quite another
And add the sorrow of watching
A confused older brother

We stumble on
Hold we have it right
Continue with the noble fight
(and try not to let it keep us up at night)

On this walk
We gather the sense
Of shared possibility
That one day, he won't have this disability�
The child, yet unborn, spoke with the Father,
"Lord, how will I survive in the world?
I will not be like other children.
My walk may be slower; my speech may be hard to understand,
I may look different,
What is to become of me?"

The Lord replied to the child,
"My precious one, have no fear.
I will give you exceptional parents.
They will love you because you are special, not in spite of it.
Though your path through life will be difficult,
Your reward will be greater.
You have been blessed with a special ability to love,
And those whose lives you touch will be blessed
Because you are special."

A meeting was held quite far from Earth,
"It's time again for another birth,"
Said the Angels to the Lord above,
"This special child will need much love.
His progress may seem very slow,
Accomplishments he may not show,
And he'll require extra care
From the folks he meets way down there.
He may not run or laugh or play,
His thoughts may seem quite far away;
In many ways he won't adapt
And he'll be known as handicapped.
So let's be careful where he's sent,
We want his life to be content.
Please, Lord, find the parents who
Will do a special job for you.
They will not realize right away
The leading role they're asked to play.
But with this child sent from above
Come stronger faith and richer love.
And soon they'll know the privilege given
In caring for his gift from heaven.
Their precious charge, so meek and mild,
Is heaven's very special child."

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability-to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It is like this�


When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip-to ITALY! You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans�the Colloseum, the Michelangelo David, the gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.


After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The flight attendant comes in and says, "Welcome to HOLLAND!"


"Holland?" you say. "What do you mean, Holland? I signed up for Italy. I'm supposed to be in Italy! All my life, I've dreamed of going to Italy!"


But there has been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland, and it is there that you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine, and disease. It's just a different place.


So, you must go out and buy new guidebooks. You must learn a whole new language, and you will meet a whole new group of people that you otherwise never would have met.


It's just a different place. It's slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while, you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even the Rembrandts.


But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."


The pain of that will never, ever, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.


But if you spend your life mourning that fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.


Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures, and a couple by habit. This year nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how these mothers are chosen?


Somehow, I visualize God hovering over Earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs his angels to take notes in a giant ledger. "Armstrong, Beth, son, Patron saint, Matthew. Forest, Marjorie, daughter. Patron saint, Cecilia. Rutledge, Carrie, twins. Patron saint�give her Gerard. He's used to profanity." Finally, He passes a name to an angel and smiles. "Give her a handicapped child."


The angel is curious. "Why this one, God? She's so happy."


"Exactly. Could I give a handicapped child to a mother who doesn't know laughter? That would be cruel."


"But does she have patience?" asks the angel.


"I don't want her to have too much patience or she'll drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she'll handle it. I watched her today. She has that sense of self independence so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has his own world, and that's not going to be easy."


"But, Lord. I don't think she even believes in you."


God smiles. "No matter, I can fix that. Yes. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness."


The angel gasps, "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?"


God nods, "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a spoken word. She will never consider a step ordinary. When her child says �Momma' for the first time, she will be a witness to a miracle and know it. When she describes a tree or a sunset to her blind child, she will see it as few people ever see my creations.


"I will permit her to see clearly the things I see-ignorance, cruelty, prejudice-and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side."


"And what about her patron saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air.


God smiles, "A mirror will suffice."



Picture Gallery

Surfers Healing

Walk for Autism Research