I got an email, just a few minutes ago, from someone I knew many years ago. We both worked with people with disabilities, for the same agency, but in different locations. We were never friends. In fact we were more often at odds than we were in agreement. I respected her, as much as anyone can respect another who holds differing opinions, but I did not really like her. So an email from her was an odd and unexpected thing.
The email was brief, not long on friendliness, and asked of me a favour. Apparently this woman's best friend's daughter has had a child, a girl, with significant disabilities. She asked if I could write her an inspirational kind of condolence letter. Something to help her understand that this isn't the worst possible thing that could have happened. Would I please?
My first thought, an unkind one, was that 'with these kinds of friends' ... I mean the suggestion of a condolence letter to mark the birth of a child. Yeah, an email from a stranger to replace the warm wishes of friends. A condolence in place of a congratulations. Babies are babies, they are never tragedies. Sure there are tragic circumstances and tragic journies ... but babies, to me, are babies. And babies are about hope and joy and strength. Life holds on. Even a brief life, is life. Even a tough life, is a life. Every battle has hope of victory. I get that there have to be some adaptions as parents switch from fantasy child to real child. I also get that, never having had a child, I will never understand that moment of reckoning. Not truly. Not really.
But, a baby.
A baby may have severe disabilities but they shouldn't have to bear, on tiny shoulders the disappointment of others.
A baby may have medical complications but they shouldn't face complicated surgery without the support of a very uncomplicated love from family.
A baby may have a tough road but they are carried the first few miles ... aren't they? Shouldn't they be?
I can't write this email. I can't conjure the picture of these parents. I can write to you out there in the nonspecific universe about specific issues. But to write about a baby. A little tiny baby. I just can't do it.
Give her hope in your touch.
Give her love in your voice.
Give her faith in your arms.
A baby cannot be greeted with a condolence ...
A family cannot be supported by a stranger ...
Even so, welcome to the world little one ...
may life surprise you and may you surprise others.