When I was younger, all that I knew about kids who were "different" was to not stare. We were never told anything about them or what made them different. We were just supposed to pretend like a difference wasn't even there. Is this where our ignorance for what is different and the fear of the unknown began?
I always thought of people who had special needs were living in a parallel world to ours. It was like they were in a room with only one door but several windows that would allow you a view in with little consequence. You would walk by the outside and try not to look in but curiosity always got the best of you. Inside you would see the families and children who had to struggle more with life. A sense of overwhelming sadness would come over you so you would walk as quickly away from the window as possible bearing an artificial smile to all who may have seen you and thank God that it wasn't you in there. Seconds later, that feeling of sadness is gone and the room with the door is forgotten.
And then one day, without realizing how it happened, you find yourself inside that room.
The door is a one way door and you are unable to get out. You can kick, scream and throw your body against the door but, it will not budge. It is concrete. With careful hesitation, you look over your shoulder to get a glimpse of what is in here and fall helplessly to the floor. You are so scared of the unknown and you feel all alone in this crowded room.
After awhile, you begin to inch your way around the perimeter of the room. Over near the windows there is a very soft light. Your family and friends are there waiting very anxiously to talk with you. And you want to talk to them. They are familiar, they have always understood. They want to reassure you that everything is OK but, they don't know what to say and they are uncomfortable. Apprehensive to ask questions and nervous to look around. They can visit through the windows but they can never stay. And you can hope as they do that soon everything will just fix itself but, if you keep believing that, if you keep holding on, you will never venture away from that door. You will never get to meet the remarkable people inside the room who all got here the same way you did. It was sudden and unexpected and they felt scared and alone. But together, with this new extension of family, we are not alone.
So often I hear that we should hope for the best, which implies that staying here is the worst. It's not the worst... as long as you have your baby in your arms. If you really think about it, it doesn't sound too bad being labeled as special in a world full of ordinary. Perhaps one day, I will be more comfortable here and I will see the blessings this room has to offer our family and what we may be able to give back. I wish I could say that now. But not yet...not today.