Friday, October 02, 2009

The Visitation

Seven days old.

Sadie and her family came to visit today. We shut down the computer and spent some quality time. We'd missed Ruby's 3rd birthday because we were on the road, the dress you see in the picture was one that we picked up in Ireland for her and she, little clotheshorse, loved wearing it. Though I love the posed picture that we have here of us with the wee one and the incredibly wee one, there is a picture we didn't take and that's the one I want to tell you about.

Ruby has known me since birth and that whole time I have been, simply me. That means of course many things. Ultimately it means that I'm a fair bit different from most people. As Ruby has aged she has begun to notice, and comment on various aspects of who I am and how I exist in the world. Last time she asked me about my wheelchair. Her questions are curious, not hostile, and I welcome them. 'Dave why don't you walk?' 'Because I can't walk.' 'Oh ... that's why the chair has wheels.' 'Yes.' 'OK.'

Simple questions and simple answers. I'm cool with all that. What I've worried about, because I am held hostage to insecurity, is that one day she will have to choose between valuing me and devaluing difference. Peer pressure, societal expectations, the need to conform being very, very strong, I wonder if one day I will lose. And it will, should it happen, hurt.

So today, she said to me, quietly as I was sitting here at my desk. 'You're different.' Those are only two words and they lead only to one of two directions. I said, 'Yes, I am.' That was it. Nothing more than statement and confirmation. I felt tears at the corner of my eyes. I always emotionally prepare for the worst. But then, suddenly, activity.

We were up and out for lunch. We discovered wonders at the dollar store. We went to the mall for a walk and a bit of shopping. As we headed over toward the elevator to go downstairs Ruby came up beside me and took my hand. I drove along side of her and she held on tight. New places don't scare her but she likes to know that she's safe. My hand, apparently, was the one that made everything OK.

I heard Mike say to Marissa, 'That would make a wonderful photo.' But I asked him not to take it. I decided that the photo would change the moment. From something natural to something posed. From something different, to something ordinary.

I guess I need to start believing that love is a little tougher, a little stronger and a little more durable than I have come to believe.


Kris Stableford said...

Remember Ruby's famous words: "Dave...MINE!" That's a strong statement indicative of a strong bond.

Cindy said...

When my kids were little (they are now 23-30) we saw someone in a wheelchair and they asked about it. My explanation that seemed to satisfy them was that my eyes don't work well so I wear glasses, that person's legs don't work well so they use a wheelchair.

Kristin said...

What a sweet story. I wish more adults could continue to understand (like children do) that different isn't bad, it just is.

Shan said...

Lovely baby...Ruby looks so happy to be a big sister!

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, looks like you and Joe are going to have your hands full. How wonderful...

Belinda said...

What a safe island of love these little girls have found. Sadie is safely ensconced over your great heart, which she could no doubt feel beating. Little does she know how blessed she is to rest there.

Anonymous said...

Dave, in Ruby's eyes, you aren't "different". She has grown up with you exactly the way you are, wheelchair and all, and to her, that's normal. Why would her normal suddenly become abnormal?

Yes, she may have friends who aren't as lucky as she is to have diversity in her very own family. They may confuse her with the mocking of someone different, but Ruby is a well-beloved child firmly grounded and surrounded by loving people of many different abilities. She'll look at those who mock, raise an eyebrow and tell them that it's not nice to do that.

My daughter grew up with a grandmother in a wheelchair. She also has a cousin with Down's Syndrome. She's now 36, a mother and at no time in her life was her Nanny anything other than her Nanny. Never an inconvenience, never a burden. Even when my daughter had to fight for her grandmother to have wheelchair seating at her college graduation (they said it was full), my daughter fought because it was the only right thing to do.

Proverbs 22:6 says "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

Ruby is growing up the way she should. With many different people loving her, nurturing her and giving her the ability to be as complete an adult as possible.

She will always love you. Always cherish you and she'll never see you as "different" in a hurtful way.

Anonymous said...

I guess I need to start believing that love is a little tougher, a little stronger and a little more durable than I have come to believe.

Why so Dave? Find this hard to believe when you have what you have shared with Joe for all these years?

Great photo....Nice to meet you Sadie!
Love LinMac (Linda)

Anonymous said...

The love of children is immensely strong.