The lecture day was over. What a relief. Several months ago, I decided that I needed to construct a new message out of some old stories, a different way to look at people with disabilities and the care thereof. Of course, it seemed a good idea at the time. The advertising was done and the registrations came in. The day grew closer and closer. As it did the 'message' that was clear in my head grew fuzzier and fuzzier. I couldn't believe that I'd trapped myself into having to do something new. Dance to a new tune. Sing a new song.
Joe can attest that my nerves grew and grew. I thought about nothing but the lecture and what I had to say. My confidence wasn't high. Even so, I sat down with a pen and began to organize the material for the day. Once it was done, I could sleep. But in sleep I would dream of lecturing and running out of breath, about standing up to talk only to discover my notes were missing, about people refusing to settle down and listen to what I had to say. By the time the day came, yesterday, I was so relieved to get it over with that I was eager to get to the hall.
I spoke in the hall at Villa Columbo, a beautiful place to give a presentation. Wonderful lighting for me, comfortable chairs for those in the audience. People arrived and I saw many I knew. Then came the introduction, then came the start. I looked down at my notes, realized that I'd started wrong, took a quick recalculation and started with two different stories and then went on to the lecture as written.
It ended, as these things do, with applause and a few people coming up to say that they enjoyed the day. I waited as Joe gathered the evaluations and loaded the car. Finally, it was just me sitting outside the room at what had been the registration table. It felt good, I knew it had good well.
Then a woman came to speak to me. She was one of the women who 'worked the hall', cleaning coffee cups, making sure that things were orderly and tidy for the attendees. At every single break she came up to me and asked if I wanted anything, coffee, water, juice. She was a natural hostess, carrying herself with dignity, offering caring warmly. Joe arrived just as she put her hand on my shoulder, then she said, 'You spoke to my heart today. I needed to hear some of what you said." I was really touched, she didn't have to say anything.
I asked her if she worked with or knew people with disabilities.
She said, cryptically, 'Your talk was not about disabilities, didn't you know that?'
And last night I lay awake thinking about what I said and what it meant. I gave up on figuring out what she meant. I was just then, thankful, for the voice I have been given and the opportunities I have to use it.