|Photo description: A sunflower in a meadow looks to wards the sun.|
I feel him coming, I don't know where this sense comes from, I didn't have it when I was non-disabled, but it's true, I can actually feel him coming. I look up from my book and over to him. He's heading straight for me. I don't want intrusion or interruption so I telegraph that to him by going back to reading my book. Though I am reading, I know he is still coming. I am sitting, in the sun, in a locked wheelchair, reading a book, beside someone who is also sitting and engaged in reading an email.
"Do you need help?" he asks.
I look at him. "No, I don't, thanks," I say. I want him to just go away. I don't want to educate or enlighten him. I don't want to engage with him at all. I want ... I want ...
I want to sit in the sun, in my wheelchair, and read my book.
To his credit, when I politely refused his help, he smiled, nodded and went on his way.
I told myself, because I now had to stop reading and deal with the interaction, that he meant well and that I didn't want to punish him for a gesture meant in kindness.
I went back to reading.
But I couldn't.
I realized that if I looked helpless and in desperate need for help, from a stranger, when I was sitting, in the sun, in a locked wheelchair, reading a book beside someone who was obviously with me and capable of helping if help was needed, I would never, ever, ever, ever, be safe from the intrusion and the interruption, caused by strangers thrusting offers of help into my day. That I would never be anything but an object to these people.
An object that has only one purpose, to take help.
I was not a person, sitting in the sun, in a locked wheelchair, reading a book. I was an object awaiting the kindness of a stranger in order to continue my day. I was an object that simply waited, Waited for help. That's was I was. No, that's wrong, there is no 'I' here. 'I' don't exist. It does.
The thing that waits in the sun for help.
The thing that doesn't read, that doesn't enjoy quietly sitting in the sun, that isn't attached to the person sitting next to it.
"What did he think you needed help to do?" Joe asked, looking up from his email.
"Exist," I said.