Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Other Lunch

Our last day in London we went to Tesco for a bit of shopping and to have lunch. We sat right at the window and watched as people were streaming in and out of the store. Empty carts going in, laden carts going out. Anxious faces going in. Relieved faces coming out. The season was evident as brightly decorated rolls of Christmas paper peaked out of many baskets. It seemed that they were fighting a losing battle on the side of 'cheer'.

I heard a 'Whoop' that was loud enough to make it through the glass so I turned to see a mom pushing a cart with a little boy in it. He was riding in the cart as if it were some kind of cool skate board. He turned to grin at his mother and I saw that on the left side of his face he had serious scarring, the kind that happens from a severe burn of some kind. He wore his face carelessly in that moment because he grinned up as his mother, urging her to go faster. She grinned back, seeing both sides of his face but only one boy - sometimes parents move me to tears.

She began to run with the cart. There were signs all over the place urging parents not to let their children ride in carts, but these two paid them no mind. She was a trim fit woman, looked like the kind that ran marathons between working out at the gym and morning sit ups. She could really run. The cart hit a stone and veered off and the two of them screamed as she fought to right the cart and he used his body, clearly he was a skateboarder, to assist her in the struggle to get it right.

Disaster averted, the two of them laughed. He turned, impulsively and threw himself in her arms. It was a lovely moment.

To me.

But behind me an elderly couple was also watching.

They must have seen something different.

He said to her, 'It looks like he was caught in a fire.'

She said to him, 'That face will never be made normal.'

He said to her, 'Poor woman.'

She said to him, 'She will have to grieve every day for the rest of her life, if he'd have died, she'd probably be over it in a year or two.'

I looked again out the window as they were on their way. Her freshly hugged. Him urging her to run again.

The couple had gone back to their meals. They were busy feeding their bodies. They'd had an opportunity to feed their souls, but turned it down. It was wrong of me, I know, but I openly pitied them.

18 comments:

tekeal said...

through the eyes of the beholder...

Glee said...

People are shallow and their looking is shallow. Their judgements however are deep. Such a shame.

rickismom said...

OMG the older couple would have rather a child be BURNED to death?!?!!! OMG OMG how narrow minded and prejudiced.

Andrea S. said...

Even though I've seen it so often, it never ceases to amaze me how disability prejudice (including the myth of "disability as unrelenting tragedy") can be so entrenched a person can fail to see the joy that is so obviously right in front of them. How can their view of humanity be so uni-dimensional?

Belinda said...

A shriveled soul, and as tekeal said, "Through the eyes of the beholder." I think that pity for the woman was the only possible response. Strange, because I'm not much into pity--except in these circumstances.

Cole said...

You and Belinda are better people then me. Pity is a kind response to that woman's world view. In order for me to be sympathetic to her I have to make up a history in my mind like maybe she did lose a child and this is her coping mechanism and it just hurts too much for her to look any further.Even in typing that though I can hardly believe that would be the case- I don't know any parent of a child that has died that wouldn't give anything for just another carefree moment with that child like that beautiful mom has been blessed with.

Emma said...

You know I bet that mother is just relieved her child survived. Makes me sick.

profp said...

Thank you!


I think you might enjoy this post:
http://profp.tumblr.com/post/1093339023/heard-but-not-seen

Peace -

Spinningfishwife said...

That't beyond words. Today is the nineth anniversary of my son's death (cancer, aged 7) and no, I'm not over it and I don't expect I ever will be. Nor would I ever want to forget him. If he'd lived he'd have been damaged physically by the treatments but ..well, no contest, really. Thinking a child would be better dead than carry a scar?!!
On the positive side I bet that boy grows up to be quite a man, given his mother.

Dave Hingsburger said...

spinningfishwife, I hesitated before pushing the 'publish' button on this one. I was afraid of just this situation - that my blog might just trigger someone's past loss and hurt. Then I thought that if it did, this mother's love for her boy outshines (for me) the nasty words of others. I'm sure that my other readers join me in expressing a wish that your memories, today, be of the boy you love and that those memories bring you much more comfort than pain.

Becca said...

Oh, holy cow. Unbelievable, some people. So sad that they will never see the beautiful side to life and love. Their loss.

Princeton Posse said...

Again, Dave's phrase "obvious to the oblivious" comes to mind.

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

I appreciate this post. The prejudices of that older couple are horrifying. But the joy of the mother in her child is uplifting.

I, like spinningfishwife, have suffered the death of my child and I will always mourn her. I would give anything for one more joyful moment with her. Your post was not painful for me - it is like home for me - you do know that my child's life was joy. Many people never saw past her disability to that joy.

Colleen

Spinningfishwife said...

Dave, your words didn't trigger any hurt so please don't think that. The loss is always with me and today more than usual, of course. Reading your post only made me feel angry at such judgemental people. And happy for the boy's mother. He sounds a lovely child.

This is a blog post where I talked about my boy, four years ago.
You'll see why I see your story from the mother's point of view. :)
http://spinningfishwife.blogspot.com/2006/11/24th-november-2001.html

coffeetalk said...

I grew up in a less than perfect home, with far less than perfect parents who didn't always treat us with kindness and show us that we were loved. I had a lot of resentment for them, but came to realize as I became a parent that my parents did not set out to damage me and they really did do the best that they could with what they had to give. That's my hope with these folks. I want to believe that they are not the hideous, horrible people that their statement implies. Maybe their life experiences are such that they have become broken and empty enough to believe the words that came out of their mouths. How could anyone who is a grandparent utter those words? So pity.....yes.

Spinningfishwife and Colleen, my warmest wishes go out to you both.

Tamara said...

I can imagine that the mother has felt those stares, maybe even heard those words. I know I have - and it feels good to ignore those who do not understand and just be happy knowing what "they" don't know. For her, that scars on a face don't make that face less beautiful. For me, that IQ scores tell so little about a boy.

How much better to live you life with the joy she exhibited than the misery they did.

Ettina said...

Reminds me of all the people who claim that autism is worse than cancer.

Kristin said...

OMG, I truly can't believe anyone could be as callous and cold-hearted as that older couple. Thank you for seeing the beauty of the moment.