I was moved, almost to tears, three times yesterday. It began with a trip to church. I had called to see if the building was wheelchair accessible and was told, proudly, that it was. We found the entrance with the blue wheelchair guy painted on it and opened the door. Inside we found a ramp that was as steep as the side of Kilimanjaro. I was immediately pissed, but said nothing as I knew Joe really wanted to be there. I hauled ass out of the chair and Joe delicately walked me up the ramp and then ran the chair up to me. As I sat down a young, vibrant, woman came in sitting in a spiffy power chair. I asked her if her chair made it up the ramp, she laughed and said that it did but I'd have to move because she goes hell bent for leather up the ramp and then makes an immediate and sharp turn at the top. Brave girl.
During the service two young men got up to sing. I read in the church newspaper as I was waiting for the service to begin that they were a gay couple who wrote and sang spiritual songs at the same time as striving for mainstream notice. Jason and DeMarco, as they are known, sang beautifully and it was easy to fall under the spell of the music. What deeply moved me, though, was looking over during the song and seeing DeMarco's mother and father sitting in the church watching their son sing. They had been introduced to the congregation before the song began and when I looked at them I could only see his mother as his father's face was out of my view. She looked on her son with such deep pride. She glowed as he sang. Tears sprang to my eyes as I imagined the journey she had taken with her son. To be here, in this place, watching him sing with his loving partner at his side - it probably wasn't an easy journey. But she made it.
Later we went to Dominon to do some grocery shopping for the new apartment. I had sprained myself the day before so I wasn't pushing myself too hard or too far. I conferred with Joe as the the ingredients of vegetarian goulash and then wandered around the front of the store. I saw a mother of a young girl, maybe fourteen, with Down Syndrome. She was encouraging her daughter to take the few groceries in their basket through the till on her own. The little girl was very hesitant, she clearly didn't believe in herself. Mom poured self confidence into the child and then stood and watched as her daughter approached the till, emptied the basket, chatted with the clerk, counted out change and paid. Pride flooded mother's face. Tears sprang to my eyes as I imagined the journey she had taken with her daughter. It probably wasn't easy. She probably didn't expect to feel this deep deep pride. But she made it.
As we drove back up to our place in Baxter, I thought about the two mothers. I thought about that look of pride. Wishing I'd had that look, even once. But then I remembered that I had, and as I did, tears sprang to my eyes. I had been lecturing for over a year and Joe had steadfastly refused to come and hear me speak. At first I was deeply hurt and felt rejected but then I came to understand that he was afraid to be there in the audience, to feel the fear that I would feel. He had stage fright for me and couldn't get over it. Then I was asked to do a talk only blocks from where we lived. It was for Central Toronto Youth Services and they wanted me to speak about 'homosexuality and the disabled population' or something such. I prodded Joe to come, and he relented. During the talk he looked up at me like a deer in the headlights, I don't think he blinked for the whole 45 minutes of my talk. When it was done and the audience responded, loudly and postively, I saw pride in his eyes. It was a journey we'd taken to gether. It definately wasn't easy, but we made it.
We make the journey.
Then the journey makes us.
I think that's the deal.
(for information on the gay couple who sang at the church please go to http://www.jasonanddemarco.com/ )