I turned the corner and there she was. Quietly talking to someone beside her. She looked up at me and smiled. A lovely quiet smile then, "Hi, David!"
My heart near burst.
I saw her first sitting, alone, on a ward in an intuition. Someone no one wanted. Someone left behind. When she moved to the community I would see her from time to time. Whenever that happened she leapt with joy, ran to me, calling my name. She was desperate, had always been desperate, for attention. For acknowledgement. For mattering.
Even though I always felt the edge of her desperation cut my soul, she endeared herself to me. Simply, I liked her. There lurked, behind her dark eyes, real joy. There lingered behind the craving need for attention, a heart that wanted to give. There lived, somewhere in the hidden recess of her soul, a quiet strength. I always knew that. I always felt that. And who she was ... along with who she could be ... drew me to her.
I liked her.
Then, suddenly and for no apparent reason, I just stopped seeing her. She wasn't in the places I was used to seeing her. She wasn't the topic of concerned conversation. She wasn't named in reports, incident or otherwise. She seemed disappeared. And. I kind of missed her. Though I knew that it wasn't me she wanted when she'd call out my name, it wasn't my attention she secretly craved, it wasn't our history that mattered, I still liked hearing my name pronounced from lips that smiled.
Over time, I think I stopped noticing that she wasn't there, wasn't part of the world I lived in any more. She was gone. The older I get the more I notice the footprints left in my life as evidence that others had once stood with me. The older I get, the more I need seeing the tread where others trod.
But, yesterday I saw her. Where I'd never seen her before.
Like I'd never seen her before.
She said my name with calm, with fond remembrance - gone was the need, the desperation, the sense of deep aloneness. Gone.
And so too was missing the cutting edge of isolation.
When we talked I noticed that the sun had come out from behind her eyes.
This is why we fought for community ... people come home to houses first, then, finally, to themselves.
I am honoured to be part of a huge civil liberties movement - aimed at garnering freedom for those with disabilities to live as a valued part of their community.
Aimed at having first one 'coming home' party.
And then ... another.