Disability and Humanity

by doejones

Disability affords the opportunity to bring together all worlds. Whether one is young, elderly, wealthy, poor, Caucasian, Hispanic, African-American, religious, nonreligious, athletic, sedentary, outgoing or rather introverted, all peoples are brought together under the umbrella of this common reality for 20 million people in this country. This is not a category one would seek partnership in obtaining. Most data suggests the greatest numbers join this group in adulthood. This may occur by way of accident or illness. However, a significant group sign-up before they know it, these are infants and young children. Their parents joined with them.

My hope, via this blog, is to shed light for those trying to understand issues that persons with disabilities come up against while moving about in this able-bodied world.

Some of you live in the neighborhood of disability. A loved one, a close friend, maybe a former colleague, has come to know a disability personally. You have concerns, but with no personal knowledge to share you feel inadequately prepared to support your friend. Certainly schools, family, and community organizations do not spend time educating persons on how to carry on a relationship with someone who has experienced a dramatic life changing experience.

A distinct memory that I carry is one which took place in a pediatric neurosurgeon’s waiting room. My husband and I had arrived early with our daughter for her appointment. So too, had several other families. As I looked around I noted that, apart from small babies in arms, almost all of the other children had gathered around two play tables, exchanging toys and books and generally laughing and enjoying one another’s company. I further noted that the families appeared to come from all corners of the world. They were Muslim, Christian and Jewish. Some were young, others somewhat older parents. All ethnicities seemed to be represented. We parents were mostly quiet enjoying watching our children in their play.

A father sitting next to me explained that they were awaiting news regarding the eight-month-old child he held in his arms. Apparently this baby had a tumor in her brain and the expectation was that it was cancer. He held out hope, that the finding would be that it was benign. He said, through tear-filled eyes that he didn’t want his daughter to have to undergo all that had happened to his niece. This beloved niece, his brother’s child, had been buried just a few months before at the age of five. He also said that he didn’t think his parents would make it, if a second grandchild were lost to this disease.   I realized that at that moment the same collective prayer was being sent forth to whichever Spiritual Deus that was residing in each of those families hearts.” Not my child, not this time, not me, not now,please.” But also it likely included,” not any of these other children either”.

Some went home with good news, others not so good news. None more righteous or deserving than any others present that morning. It made me think that issues that face the representatives of the United Nations as they come together for their meetings should be held under just such a format. Sitting, waiting, and hoping, in that room, gives one an entirely different perspective on brotherhood and humanity and what it means to be a family on this little planet we all call home.