And it isn’t you. Sorry.
It isn’t you because you are already here, at a site called Support for Special Needs. If you’re here, you get it. You’re almost certainly part of the club. You have a disability, or your kid has one, or someone you love or work with. We may not have anything else in common, but the thing that we do share isn’t small. When I come here and I write about Schuyler or my own fears and triumphs as a parent, you might say that I’m right, that sounds exactly familiar. Or you might say I’m full of crap. But you’re probably never going to say “Oh, that never occurred to me.” Because if you’re in the club, there’s very little that hasn’t occurred to you, often in the middle of the night when the shadows are long on the ceiling and the future grumbles softly under the bed.
I love talking to you, I really do. But sometimes, and often of late, I want to talk to someone else. Someone new, someone unaware.
I want to talk to them, and take them by the lapels and pull them close and ask them “Why? Why can’t you see? Why can’t you change? Love is waiting, if you could just see for yourself.”
Over the weekend, I spoke at an event at a local library. It was advertised as a Literary Tea. Once a year, the library hosts a tea and dessert event. You come, you drink some tea (fancy), you listen to a harpist play (very fancy), and you hear an author speak for twenty minutes or so about their book (maybe fancy, maybe very much not so, as it turns out). It wasn’t a disability related event, not at all. The attendees could have heard someone talk about history, or fashion, or squirrel monkeys. That didn’t matter. Tea, harp and fancy talk.
It was, in other words, a gathering of the people I want to talk to most of all these days.
How did it go? I’m not entirely sure. I sold a few books, so that’s good news. I talked to a few people afterwards who seemed to connect with my points about how we can build authentic relationships with the disabled, and in doing so begin to truly change the world. I saw a lot of blank faces. I saw some irritation from time to time. I didn’t reach everyone. I reached a few, I think.
That’s how it happens, I guess, this idea of a fundamental change in our society in its attitudes towards those with disabilities. You reach others, most don’t hear, but a few do.
I have an essay that I’m shopping around to sites that don’t aim specifically at the disability community. I don’t want to give it to a crowd that will say “Hear hear! That’s exactly right! I’ve been saying that all along!”, or even “I disagree, I live in this world of disability too. You’re entirely wrong, and here’s why.”
I want to reach the crowd who says “I never thought about it like that before. I’m going to give that some consideration.” I’ll even take “Why should I care? I don’t know anyone like that. Someone else will take care of it.”
Because every now and then, someone will care. A light, previously unlit, will flicker on, and society will move one more tiny step towards a world that is fair and accommodating, and which will make room unconditionally, for people like my daughter.
I’ll take those tiny steps. I’ll happily watch those tiny lights come on.