Monday, December 30, 2013

Abilities Reside Within Disabilities, Part III

          I was going to add this to the previous blog, but no. It needs its very own spot, not a side note to another concept.

          Recently, I spoke with my biological cousin, the older sister of the adopted cousins I mentioned in the previous blog. As we spoke in agreement about the awesomeness of her brown brother and sister, I began questioning myself, admitting that I am over-the-top-crazy about them … possibly to a flaw. Truthfully, I am mesmerized by these two individuals, as I have been with every other special needs child my aunt and uncle have fostered or adopted. I am completely in awe. The part I questioned was that I do put them on a pedestal, basically in an adoring way. Kind of like idolatry, which is not so good. I’m cringing a bit writing that, but the truth is the truth. I see perfection in these children, and perfection is a strong word.

          It made me think of another cousin my aunt and uncle brought into our lives. He survived, somehow, until he was a teenager. This is perplexing because he had a brain stem, but his brain never formed. He was blind, could not swallow, talk or move. Well, he could stiffen his body and do slight movements, but not things like rolling over or sitting up … or anything else intentional. There is no doubt in my mind that the average person would see him and his life as tragic, pitiful and any other adjective describing “not good.”

I get that.

I disagree, but I get it.

(He was in the same mental category of perfection, or whatever you want to call it, that I have the other two cousins.)

          If I ever disappeared due to having a hard time in life or a bad day, at his bedside is where I could be found. It’s selfish, I suppose.

One may think I went to him to see how bad life can be and in turn, be more grateful for what I have and for my life … the concept of someone having it worse than you, making you count your blessings. That makes me smile because it is so far off base. Not the case at all.

Here’s the scoop.

I believe in God. I see Him as The Great Comforter. In other words, no matter how scared, upset or terrible I feel, if I could simply sit near Him, it would calm everything, and I would know I was safe. Just like a screaming baby hushes at the sound of his parents’ voice or the touch of their hand. The baby knows everything will be ok now. That is how I feel about God.

These children, particularly the mentally challenged, have a different light around them. Though I cannot literally see, smell or hear something uniquely different, it is as though I can.

The reason is this; they are without sin.

To me, they are a tangible way to be the closest I possibly can be to God. His scent, light, love and perfection are 100% with these children. I am completely blown away by the thought of a human who has never intentionally said, thought or done one single thing with a negative intention. Basically, being with them is more exciting and breathtaking than I would feel being with a celebrity. No doubt, I enjoy the thrill of meeting famous people, but it does not compare to being in the presence of a person without sin. Their hearts are pure, and I absorb their awesomeness in the same way as relaxing on the beach, soaking in the sun’s warm rays.

Even my cousin who is physically, but not mentally challenged fits in this category. Though I know she has disobeyed or said hurtful things and probably disliked a person or two, her disability has caused her to obtain something able-bodied people cannot. Granted, she has a beautiful level of purity, but her ability to enjoy the things in life that I cannot see when I’m not with her … that is what makes her magical.

I never knew to be thankful because I could roll over in the bed, stand up from laying or sitting, drive, prepare my plate of food, scratch my itches, brush my hair … or how deterring one or two steps can possibly be when you want to get somewhere.

There’s tons more. But, if I had to describe her top quality/characteristic, it would definitely be laughter. In fact, since she was tiny, I do not believe I have EVER seen her when she did not smile. And, her smile is more radiant than yours, I don’t care who you are. She is and always has been a light in my life.


Yesterday, we had our family Christmas dinner. I watched my little nephew who is almost 4, as he observed my cousin. My nephew has not been around anyone with special needs, or anyone who wasn’t white. He sees this side of our family once a year … and this year he noticed the large, brown, boy/man, who acts a bit different. After a few moments, I began talking to him about what he was seeing. The truth is, his childlike, raw, transparency exposed what most people think.

He was scared, and to be downright blunt, he was put out with how different my cousin was than him … and everyone else. My nephew seemed overwhelmed with how big my cousin was, the way he acted and the color of his skin. He voiced his feelings, which, though it sounded harsh, I was impressed by his ability to identify and verbalize what he thought and felt. The difference between him and adults I've seen who seemingly react the same, is that the child was honest or blunt enough to say it. Now, the important part for us, as his teachers, is to explain the importance of when to say such and who to tell. In this case, my cousin happens to be a person who cannot get his feelings hurt because he simply cannot understand. However, that won't be the case with every "outwardly different person" my nephew sees in the future. For example, if he were to see a child (or person) who has been severely burned, injured, cancer-stricken or such ... and their minds are like ours ... some serious damage could have and would have happened if they heard him say he didn't like them because of how they looked. Here's where the fun teaching begins!

I continued our chat, probing a little and throwing in tidbits of information, planting little seeds in this formative mind in an attempt to create another heart for those with special needs. It’s a win/win situation for all. By laying this groundwork; possibly, a little child who is shunned for being different will be noticed, loved and accepted by my little nephew. And in turn, my nephew will grow to learn what I know … the blessing of being in the company of one who has a majestic flare of perfection hidden within, yet blatantly out in the open. The scenario reminds me of a diamond. It comes from a black lump of coal. If you don’t know what lies within, and you make your assessment from the outside … you will miss a treasure beyond measure!!

       Even better, my brother texted me later that same night about what happened with his son and my cousin. It was an awesome request. (My brother and I became brother and sister my senior year in high school, when my dad married his mom. So, he didn't have the privilege of growing up around these angels on earth.) He asked if I would help him teach his son about accepting and loving people, all people. My brother saw a concept that he wanted to learn more about, not only to teach his child, but for himself. I think this is a great thing to explore and learn about because it has no negative sides other than the initial discomfort of getting out of your comfort zone.

   When we think about it, how can we possibly know about something if we have never been exposed to it or taught. And ... it's never too late to learn. Especially such a wonderful, fulfilling lesson as love and acceptance of others.
    Our plan for my little nephew? Less talking about it and spending more time with my cousin. The best way to learn and understand is by experience. I look forward to doing an update on my nephew as he learns and grows. I think it's going to be an awesome metamorphosis to witness!


Dang, that’s some good stuff,


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