Thursday, October 25, 2012

Transcending CP: A Snapshot of My Life

            Every single day. Every single day for two years, weather permitting, I rode that bike, my knuckles white from gripping the handlebars, my eyes fixed on the stretch of pavement ahead, and determination bubbling in my chest. To some of the neighbors, I was that girl that was to be pitied, that girl with a disability, that girl whose parents were told she might never walk independently. Evidently those neighbors underestimated the power of perseverance. One afternoon, I was pedaling home from the bus-stop with my mother gripping my shoulders, and it was an ordinary day except that after a moment, she let go. She let go, but I kept pedaling, willing myself to stay upright, willing myself to ride that bike independently for the first time in my life at age nine. And I did. 
            It’s called cerebral palsy, and as a triplet born three months prematurely, I was at a higher risk for it. The form I have primarily affects my lower body, but it hinders my brain’s communication with my muscles, so some physical activities can present a challenge for me.
However, challenges inspire me, and those who look beyond my gait see so much more. They see a girl at the top of her class, a girl who studies meticulously and has a passion for learning. They see a girl who has taken piano lessons for over eight years, a girl who fingers difficult pieces until they’re mastered. They see a girl who isn’t defined by her limitations, a girl who knows that she is capable of anything. 
Like me, he was capable too, but it was difficult to see. He was wheelchair-bound, with frozen limbs and an inability to speak. It was a blindingly-bright morning, the day of the Audubon Society’s annual fair. As a volunteer, my event required participants to throw a ball at a target, and when the boy and his father started to retreat, I stopped them. Peering into the boy’s eyes, I asked if he would like to try, and his father responded, a smile in his voice, “I think he would.” The expression on the boy’s face was indelible as his hand was gently guided into throwing the ball. Although his muscles were unforgiving and his body was stiff, there was a sparkle in his eyes and laughter in his smile. I remembered the feeling that I had when I first rode that bike, and I imagined that his spirit, too, was soaring.  
I am no longer that girl to be pitied, that girl with a disability, that girl whose parents were told she might never walk independently. I am that girl to be admired, that girl with endless abilities, that girl who not only walked independently, but rode a bicycle, and rode it as quickly as her legs could carry her. I am that girl who transcended a doctor’s diagnosis with sheer willpower, and that girl who gives others the opportunity to do the same. I am that girl.

6 comments:

  1. What an amazing story! You ARE that girl.

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  2. Gosh you are an amazing writer xxxx I am choking back the tears reading this. Your parents must be so proud of you as you are of yourself xxxx

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  3. Aww, thank you for your kind words! They mean so much to me!

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  4. Welcome to the world of blogging K I have CP as well come visit my blog sometime

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  5. Bravo! You are an inspiration!

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  6. I relate to this in that I remember my great grandma teaching me to ride a tricycle on their sidewalk when I was five. While CP is nothing to transcend (at least not for me) I can understand wanting to show those neighbors what they could do with their nosey-ness.

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