One more step away; a mom in a grocery store, a stranger approaches and looks down at a child and calls him a cripple; one more step away.... feels like I'm leaving Eden.... (the exact feeling that the song Leaving Eden by Brandon Heath describes).
Three and a half years later, and you'd think that somehow I'd find a way to not let what others think or say about Noah affect me. Yet I think that 10 years from now, 20 years from now words can still hurt, unfavorable glances will still make me uncomfortable. I went to Whole Foods the other day to get a handful of items, it was destined to be a rather quick trip. A young man in his early twenties, buying his sushi and acai berry juice with coconut milk so that he could be "the healthiest human being in town," looked at Noah and said he's a cripple right? I was so taken back. I hadn't heard that reference in many years. A cripple? I guess that's kind of like sort of saying he is retarded without really saying it. I replied that he had quadriplegia cerebral palsy as a result of not breathing for the first 13 minutes of life. He thought that meant heart damage, so I knew I really couldn't educate this person, he clearly thought he knew what he was talking about. He paid and said to me "I'm so sorry you won't ever know your son and walked away."
The cashier smiled at me, teary. She knew. She knew what had just happened. But we both chose not to discuss it so we both didn't collapse in a heaping flood of tears. For every mean person, there is usually someone nice who makes up for it. The thing is I really do know Noah. I know him probably better than anyone could ever imagine.
I know he is outgrowing Elmo, and really only likes World World, AirBuddies, and Shrek Movies. I know his favorite color is blue followed by red, I know his favorite place to eat is Chick-Fil-A - the two strip chicken kids meal with fruit pureed. I know he also loves Arby's sandwiches and potato cakes, and that he'll eat every ounce of a good chicken pot pie. He prefers Liberte Yogurt, yet will eat Noosa if it's all I have. He loves trains and airplanes like any other three and a half year old would. He adores live music, and loves it when other children pay attention to him. He loves to flirt with blonde ladies and laughs if dogs bark in his direction. He demands to watch food network especially when drinking a bottle. His favorite chef is Anne Burrell he adores her animation and descriptions of food; he also likes Paula Deen but doesn't care for Barefoot Contessa. His little brother aggravates him when he plays with what he considers his toys. I know that he has two different squeals, one for pain, and one for when he's nervous. I know what his cries mean, which ones are typical toddler tantrums, and which ones mean he's hungry or wants a bottle. He loves Christian music played in the car at all times. I know that Noah would do anything for frozen yogurt or ice cream. He adores chocolate and shredded cheese. I know his favorite activity is taking DVD's off the stand multiple times a day. Noah loves to take walks outdoors and swing. He hates juice, and waiting of any kind. And the list could go on and on. I know him. He is after all my son. Any mother knows their child regardless of special needs or not.
There is no cure for people who open their mouths either without thinking or with the intent to verbally hurt another human being. It is sad that we live in a world where people think that it is socially acceptable to approach someone in this fashion. Not all experiences in public are bad, but they certainly aren't always good and you just never know which way it will go when you leave the house. And nothing can fully prepare you for what you might encounter along the way. And sometimes these more challenging comments can really knock you off your feet and just propel you into the land of hurt quickly. It's going to grow increasingly more hard as soon as Luke starts asking questions about how people respond to his older brother. I want Luke always to be proud of Noah and all how far he's come. I don't ever want someone's cruelty to fuel shameful feelings of what we face as a family.
Noah had his Inspiration through Art Foundation photographs with Lisa Kitto done and for every person that thinks ill of Noah, there is always someone else to come along that thinks the world of him. It is a gift that God sends us people along the way to remind us we are far from alone, and that there is tremendous love for a little boy facing so many challenges named Noah. These heaven sent people, without a doubt, join on this journey that we truly need to help us along the way. A warm smile, a hug, a - I understand and love you anyway helps us go the distance.
Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.