Today, March 5, 2014, is the day to Spread the Word to End the Word. Below is a post I wrote last May after a painful experience right here in my local, “educated” community. Before you speak Think, Is it kind, is it true, is it necessary. What one may think is a casual, harmless comment may make one who longs for the presence of their Baby Girl feel a moment of gratitude that she never has to experience such hatred, ignorance and ugliness. Spread the Word!
There are many a day that I think I, perhaps, am no longer fit to mill about with the general population on a day-to-day basis. A certain tolerance seems to be required that I am pretty sure, I no longer possess.
I try hard to remember that I have endured life events that may make me extremely sensitive to day to day happenings and random interactions with friends and strangers. I also know that as sensitive as I might be, is as insensitive and callous as others behave.
To add to my dumbfounded state, is that we live in a society that is all about being “PC.” We all know that many derogatory names, sadly, can be used to describe various groups of people. And I would like to assume that none of these names are used in this day and age… but that would be both foolish and ignorant. However, you generally don’t hear these words bellowed at random places where families gather.
But there is a population that does not seem to always be worthy of such sensitive and “PC” protection and it both breaks my heart and makes me physically ill. In this day and age, why? I ask you, WHY? does it seem to be perfectly acceptable for a grown woman to bellow, “I can’t believe my check is the wrong amount, I’M SOOO RETARDED!”
I felt my blood go cold and my stomach flip. This was my pool. This was a lady I would possibly be seeing on a daily basis. I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry, I wanted to PUNCH HER IN THE FACE. But I didn’t…and I don’t know why.
So I plead you, Dear Reader, to explain to me, why? WHY? I am the one that gets the stare down when I composed myself and responded, “Don’t use THAT word, it is really very offensive.” Que long uncomfortable stares. Luckily, thanks to my circus act, I am used to being stared at. Cause that’s RIGHT…I AM the one they stared at.
I even looked the “word” up in the dictionary. I had to read through two entries that stated, “retarded child.” One that is “retarded.”
The third entry down I found this definition for “retarded”: to make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action,process, etc.); hinder or impede.
Never a mention of not having the ability, just that it might be delayed. And guess what…IT MIGHT NOT! Children with “developmental or cognitive delays” are extremely capable. Capable of overcoming what others might see as limitations. My experience is limited to Down Syndrome and Autism. Both Madeline and Johnny amaze me with what they were able to overcome and what Johnny continues to achieve on a daily basis. While delayed in some areas, Johnny’s first pre-school teacher said it best…”no one ever said Johnny is NOT SMART.” And they never said it about Madeline either.
Shaking off that interaction has sucked my energy and sent my spirit plummeting. For my Sweet Madeline, whom I ache for every day, I had a moment where I actually thought, “Thank God, she will never experience such ugliness and ignorance.” And then I cried. Because I would give anything to have Madeline here and be able to continue to experience all the ways she would charm and delight us.
I am just so sad to know that in others eyes her life might have been viewed as less valued and unworthy. And now she is forever protected from such hate in her heavenly home where I am sure she is delighting all that gaze upon her. But that she had to leave us to escape such ugliness has sent me in a tailspin and I can’t seem to find my way out.
And now I feel sad for “that lady.” (And I don’t want to.) Because perhaps she will never know the value of every life. She might not have a Madeline or a Johnny to bring joy to her heart and a smile to her face. Does that make her “delayed?…I don’t know…but IGNORANT…yep, I think that’s THE WORD.