i am not sure why, but i always felt kind of awkward around people with disabilities. i never knew what to say or how to act, and i am sure that was largely due to lack of exposure and some insecurities on my own behalf (you know how kids are). i never felt like i was better or made fun of anyone but still i just didn't feel right.
once, i was on a group date my freshman year of college...it was kind of an "I'll set you up if you set me up" scenario...awkward anyway. the girl i was with had volunteered for a dance with the local down syndrome foundation and we all went along for an hour or so...I did not know what to do with myself.
a young man came up and asked me to dance...and i awkwardly told him (right in front of his dad): "thank you, but i'm here with someone". i wasn't thinking. i immediately regretted my words. the young man didn't care...but i could see on the face of his father, the disbelief...the horror in his eyes...as he scooped his son away and said "that's ok we will just ask someone else". i am not sure what happened after that...i might have danced with someone else, i might have just stayed a wallflower at the table, i honestly can't remember. that single instance has haunted me most of my young adult life. It weighed heavily on me then....and it still does today. when my child bearing years came i remember wondering if karma would kick my behind and give me a child with a disability, the incident was that scarring.
and then i had camden...and the guilt was immeasurable. some part of my subconscious blamed his down syndrome on myself. all because i didn't dance with that young man. i knew it was irrational...and self harming...but i couldn't help it...it was too coincidental. karma i told myself. this is what you get.
and then...i fell in love with my karma. i realized that this little child was no punishment...that he was and still is a blessing. and i know now, that i needed him....that my heart needed him. his little life was not a weight thrust upon me by God because I didn't act appropriately...he was my teacher though...one that came with love, and tenderness.
i was a firm believer in that first year, that my child did not need me...he was not given to me because i deserved a child with a disability, because i was being punished...or even because i was somehow magically a better parent and more capable to handle him...he was given to me because i needed him. because my Heavenly Father wanted to bless me with a softer heart, greater compassion, and the ability to love unconditionally. and maybe that incident happened to prepare me...to have more compassion for the people of the world...to be more understanding towards the people that just don't get it...because i was there once too.
It is funny how life works out.