One day at Haley’s house we baked a “beach cake.” It was rather unconventional, quirky even. It had spiders and odd colors and unexpected objects. When I first arrived, I was in a glum mood over petty things, but Haley lifted my spirits. She made me laugh and forget. We had fun; she smiled and made the room a cheerier place. Haley can be a little like our cake: eccentric and full of surprises, yet definitely original.
I believe that everyone has something to teach. It may be that there are monkeys in the ocean and fishes in the desert, but you’ll only see them by looking through another’s eyes.
I take this scene everywhere: the taunting voices, heads turned, eyes glazing past us, obvious stares. I can take the direct questions, but “I am not really gawking at you” and “what is wrong with her” make me cringe. Haley doesn’t understand it, but I do, and it hurts my heart. My friend has cerebral palsy. We met in kindergarten: I have always known her to be like this and thought nothing of it. Other people do.
Haley doesn’t understand rudeness. She is unaware of the world around her, but blissfully so. However, in the public eye, I still am aware of the prattling. Being disabled, only Haley’s actions affect her mood. Other people’s influences don’t change her view of herself. She doesn’t care about looks, she doesn’t judge, doesn’t dwell on past things. Haley is the only person I know who truly puts other people first. I feel like Haley carts around an invisible basket on her shoulder where people can dump their burdens. Then, she releases them and lightens their soul. Sometimes, I make the mistake of judging someone; sometimes I feel like I lug a basket on my shoulder, only people pile their issues and I can never shoo them away. These things stick to me like I am a walking sticky note of hurt feelings, mistakes, and other people’s problems. Haley lets me know that I have a choice; her attitude is my own little sticky note reminder.
Haley’s disorder is not something she controls, but she makes it special. Cerebral palsy does not rule over her; it is part of her, but not the only part. Haley is not unusual, she is just Haley, and this I believe. Haley has taught me to be zany: to swing from seashells in the jungle and dive for spiders in the ocean. With our beach cake comes something different, a new perspective on life and the people around us, as well as an ability to revel in the differences. Whether she knows it or not, Haley shares with me a window that only she can open.
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