Friday, March 15, 2013

In this life . . .

Do you ever wonder what could have been? 

Sometimes I imagine a life without cerebral palsy . . .
In this life, I am running alongside my brothers; we are laughing as we chase each other.
In this life, I am pulling on cleats before heading out on the soccer field; I am hitting a home-run in baseball.
In this life, I am keeping up with my friends as we stroll down the hallway.
In this life, I am participating in gym class instead of sitting on the sidelines and witnessing a daily reminder of what I am not able - not allowed - to do.
In this life, I never have to worry about getting knocked over in a crowd.
In this life, I never give curbs a second thought.
In this life, there are no physical therapy appointments, no crutches, no orthotics, no doctors' appointments, no surgeries.
In this life, there are no muscle cramps, no stiffness, no stretches.
In this life, I can walk in a straight line without stumbling.
In this life, I have no idea what my 'adductors' are. 
In this life, there is no step in the corner of my bedroom so that I can practice stepping up and down without holding on.
In this life, I never have to think about how to move my legs and wiggle my toes.

In this life, I believe the doctors when they tell me that I won't ever walk again.
In this life, I don't understand that perseverance is more powerful than any diagnosis.
In this life, I don't understand that everyone, regardless of disabilities, is capable of greatness.
In this life, I take my body's gracefulness for granted, never stopping to appreciate the intricate movements of my fingers, the gentle ease of my breath.
In this life, I don't know what it is like to prove a doctor wrong with every step that I take.
In this life, I fail to realize that it doesn't matter how many times we fall, as long as we always get up again.

And that's when I stop imagining this life that could have been because I know that my life - cerebral palsy and all - is perfect, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Beautiful Acceptance

I walk into the office of the elementary school and the secretary looks at my legs before she looks at my face. I smile and sign in, and as I turn to leave, I realize that I don't know how to get to my destination.

"Excuse me," I say, "Where is room 215?"
She gives me directions and soon I find myself facing the door of the classroom. I'm a little jittery, and wait a moment before entering to take a deep breath.

The eyes of 27 third-grade students are upon me. Some smile, some wave; others seem to stare through me.

I bend over the desk of one little boy to help him with his fractions. Once he seems to get the hang of it, I begin to move to another student whose hand is raised.

"No," he says. "Don't go. I'm terrible at this. Terrible at everything."
"That's not true," I reply. "You got that last one all by yourself. You are very smart."
His face lights up and fills me with warmth. 

Later, I am reading with a child, my voice over his, his over mine, and before I know it, the three hours have passed and I have to go. I stand up.

"Please don't leave!" he pleads, and I tell him that I will be back next week.

Then his eyes find my legs, much like the secretary's did. I know the question that's about to come because it's the same question that I saw in the secretary's face.
"What happened to your legs?" he asks.
That's the difference between a child and an adult. He's not afraid to ask.
"They got hurt when I was a baby," I say. "So it takes me a little longer to do some things."

He smiles. "Oh, okay. So you're coming back next week?"

Acceptance. Just like that.