This I Believe

Debra - Pocatello, Idaho
Entered on August 14, 2007

I was reading a discussion on the Internet the other day, where a gentleman was bemoaning the state of being a man who has had three failed relationships the previous year. I chose to tell him what I tell my children when we are discussing the pursuit of a future spouse, or acquiring a friend who does not fit the norm. I told him he was worth cherishing and not to give up. As I wrote those words of consolation to a complete stranger, I realized that this has been the mantra of my life. I believe we all…tall/short, unattractive/attractive, able bodied,/un-able bodied, etc.…. are of worth and have the right to be cherished, no matter how unique we may be. And…I mean it.

First I must explain. I was born a blue eyed, blond haired, cherub-looking child who was loved by all of her five siblings and doting parents. Yet, this child grew to be the square peg in a round hole. I fit the obvious physical norm of the time, and grew to be even a hint attractive. I tanned well. I had some fashion sense. I moved to Washington State and on the first day of school my counselor said the girls wanted me to be on the cheering squad. Oops. My unique perspective, unconventional answers in school and just atypical outlook on life set me apart. I alienated myself from the popular, the conformist, the predictable. Hence, the square peg. Needless to say, I was not always “cherished” by my peers. But in my pursuit of all things diverse, I discovered a talent. I am really good at loving and understanding people who are way different than the majority of the population. And so my life evolved.

As I sit in a play at our local university, I hear a familiar scream in the background. It is a client of mine named David. I hear the glee in this vocalization and I laugh to myself at his free expression of happiness. I turn to smile at him, then hear an audience member state that “those kinds of people shouldn’t come to these events…. it is disruptive”. David is developmentally delayed/ I stare the comment maker down. Should I tell him? Is it becoming of a university instructor to correct an individual’s ignorance in a public setting? I smiled and stated, “He has every right to be here, just as you do.” I smiled again and turned around. He harrumphed. Uh-oh. Unpopular again.

Today I celebrated. Sara, a blond haired, blue eyed cherub of a child reached for a toy, which meant she wanted it to make a sound and light up. She did this seven times. Sara is deaf and blind. This is a huge step in her life, as she does not communicate. Period. Her nurse and mother are delighted. They give me a hug. I look at Sara and I think to myself “Dear Sara, I cherish you. And I mean it.”