Just a short story today, about an encounter Schuyler had yesterday, and what she took away from it.
We were in line at the grocery store (the place where all these kinds of stories seem to take place). When we reached the front, we saw our cashier, a nice, smiling young woman who had a lightweight, active-type model wheelchair parked behind her register. She and Julie chatted as we checked out, and she watched Schuyler very closely as we interacted. (I believe I was being my usual mature self.) We’re accustomed to Schuyler being watched; there’s a kind of “Uh oh, what’s going on here?” moment with people when they realize that things are not quite what they appear with my daughter. But this time, there was no trepidation in her look, only friendly curiosity.
She joked with Schuyler a bit (“Does your dad think he’s funny?”), and then, as Schuyler and I loaded our bags into the cart, the cashier discreetly asked Julie about Schuyler’s condition. Julie gave her the short version and explained how Schuyler communicates using her iPad.
“I’m sorry if that’s forward,” the cashier said, “but with my own disability, I’m always really curious about other people.”
“That’s totally fine, ” I replied. “Maybe you feel this way, too, but I think she’d probably prefer that people come out and ask rather than just look at her like there’s something wrong with her.”
Schuyler pointed out that the cashier’s chair looked like the one her friend at school uses.
“You know, ” the cashier said to Schuyler, “when I was a kid, I used to really hate that I had to use a wheelchair. Other kids would make fun of me, and it would make me cry. I would always tell my mom and dad that I wished I could walk like my friends. But then when I got older, I was okay with it, you know? It’s just part of who I am, and I love my wheelchair now. It lets me go wherever I want and do whatever I want.”
As we finished up the transaction and got ready to leave, the cashier told Schuyler about her favorite quote, one that she lives by. The quote came from Bethany Hamilton, the young woman who lost an arm to a shark attack but continues to surf and speak about her experience.
“Bethany Hamilton says ‘I don’t want easy. Just possible.'”
Schuyler smiled big and said “I like that.”
And with that, we were done.
As we walked to the car, I asked Schuyler, “So, do you want everything to be easy for you?”
“Nope,” she answered. “Just possible.”
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