My arms are still sore and it's two days later.
I was in the lobby of the apartment building, early on a Sunday morning. It's a large building so there are people constantly about. But this morning, there was that 'Sabbath' quiet around. I glanced at the door. I wondered, "Could I?" I rolled over and gave the latch a pull down, then I pushed the door out. The question, "Could I?" grew louder in my mind.
Glancing around to assure myself I wasn't being watched, I drew even with the door my foot petals on the bottom of the door. I held my chair in place by gripping the wheel with one hand. I threw the door open with the other. As it was still in motion I took hold of the other wheel and then pushed. I made it part way over the sill. The door swung back and stopped, resting on my footrest. I had my foot in the door, literally. Another big push and the door slid back, I was out. Victory.
Now there was the second door. It has a wierd 'rug' in front of it. The kind that is recessed into the floor. It's spongy and difficult to push over. Then the sill has a bigger lip on it than the first door. Too, it's just a little narrow.
Glance, no one around.
A big push gets me over the rug and right up to the door. I can't push it so it swings out, so I grab my wheels and push. The door opens slowly. I get just enough out to get my elbow on the second door. Now I have leverage, I pop out like a champaigne cork. On my own. For the first time I got through those two doors entirely without the kindness of strangers.
It was such a big moment and it mattered so much to me. I still smile at the knowledge that I can do what I need to do when I need to do it.
I remember all those times when, in service to people with disabilities, I ignored their attempts at independance and just stepped in and helped. "Here let me ..." All those times where I could have just waited for them to try (and maybe succeed) but instead my need to help subsumed their need to succeed. All those times when they could have felt masterful in their world, robbed by my inability to just wait a minute or two.
The only way I can apologize to those in my past is to ask you not to do this in the present. Let your child struggle through on their own. Try to figure when to help and when to stand back. Let those in your care try a little harder a little longer. Victory celebrations held in one's own heart are what changes our personal prejudices about our personal selves.
A moment more.
I wish I'd given a moment more.
Because in a moment more, I became a bit more.