Heart 2 Heart
You’re in the mall and you see a lady clearly struggling with her special needs child. What do you do? Do you stare? Do you scowl? Do you mistakenly blame her for terrible parenting? Do you feel sympathy? Do you feel her frustration? Do you feel her pain, disappointment and fear? If you’re reading this, I am guessing you are feeling the latter rather than the former. Thank God. And thank you. Go to her. Help her if you can. Tell her she’s doing all the right things. Most of all, tell her we’re all here for her. She’s not alone.
The other night I was at an Asian grocery store picking up fresh fruit for Pepper’s ketogenic diet. This particular store has so many varieties of fruit and vegetables, that we are able to give Pepper a somewhat exciting palate of food. On this particular night, there was a variety of cultures and ages at the checkouts. I can’t lie, I have never been at this particular store without waiting at least 20 minutes to check out. Even on a week night. As I was waiting in this mass of people, a series of loud gutteral noises startled me from my revelry. Nearby, in the next lane over was a woman in her late 50’s, frizzy grey-black hair, deep dark lines in her face, cheeks flush with embarrassment trying her best to settle her son with special needs as he attempted to buck and lurch from his wheelchair. His noises of protest were starting to cause quite the commotion in the store. I watched and my heart sank as others, trying their best to be polite, did the same. Like a horrible road-side accident, the rubberneckers stalled while advancing through the checkouts. It was like being stabbed through the heart with sharp paring knife. That will someday be me. Frizzy hair standing on end, dark circles under the eyes, deep facial worry lines, trying my best to sooth my child while I grit my teeth through what should be a normal and simple task. I was frozen. I couldn’t move. I was ashamed, and exhausted and full of loneliness. Most dramatically, once it was all over, I ran to my car and sobbed my head off. I drove all the way home through my blurry tears and ran straight into my husband’s arms. He understood, and pointed out, it would help me to spend some time connecting with Pepper to ease my worries. Perhaps I was feeling this way because Pepper was (at the time of writing this, still is) in the midst of a cluster of seizures, and the heartbreak of all this was distracting me from the big picture. Either way, he was right. Her brain and her body may not always cooperate, but she is always there, inside, telling us, without actually telling us that she’s ok and we are all going to be ok. We’re lucky to have her in our lives. Now go forth and be kind. We could all use a little love and understanding now and then.