I forgot you in the car yesterday. I carried in the groceries, and left you sitting there. When I came back out a few minutes later, you were laughing at me. “Mom, did you forget that I couldn’t walk?” You were teasing, but the truth is that I had. We were talking, and I expected you to just get out of the car and come into the house with me.
This week marks two years since this whole journey began. You’d think getting the wheelchair in and out of the car would be routine for the parent of a paraplegic, and maybe it should be. But I forget sometimes that there is anything you can’t do. I forget that you’re disabled, because you don’t seem to know it yourself.
I’d never really thought about accessibility until I had a daughter in a wheelchair, and had to help you get around. Two years later, you no longer need any help from me, except to get your chair in and out of the car, and I doubt that you will need help with that much longer. You ignore the ramps, preferring to simply jump the closest curb. When elevators are crowded, you spin around and simply go down the stairs. If the steps are wide enough, you prefer to go up them as well. You shock people in stores and airports when you take the escalator from floor to floor, but for you it’s just the easiest way to get where you’re going.
In your mind you are able-bodied, and you behave that way, daring anyone to see you differently.
The last time we were at the mall, the security guard came running to stop you from riding the escalator. I don’t know what he expected, but I don’t think it was a fierce 11-year-old who could quote to him from the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act.) You got all up in his chili, daring him to deny you the right to go anywhere you darn well pleased to go, smiled and wished him a good day, then popped a wheelie, grabbed the handrails, and rode your way to the second floor.
People tell me all the time how impressed they are with your strength in the face of adversity, and how well you’ve adapted to your new way of life. And while they’re right that you have and are, those who love you know that this is nothing new. You’ve been this strong all along.
Keep being the girl you are, my love. I can’t wait to see the woman you become.
All my love,
photo credit: I took it. Don't steal it. If you want to use it for something, ASK!