Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It Changes You

When Charlie was born I was so scared that he was going to change me in a bad way. I was afraid I'd never be happy again. I was afraid I would become bitter. I was afraid that I would forget how to enjoy life and be thankful for what I have.

Well, really, I realized that our lives are full of events and all we can do is react to them. How we react to them is our choice. I feel pretty confident that for the most part I'm the same girl that I was before Charlie.

Yesterday, however, I realized that I have changed some. My brother's girlfriend works at an Oil and Gas company and all the big companies rent out hotel suites or restaurants around the French Quarter and then print out special invitations for people to come. She had invitations to three different events and we were excited because they all have open bar and free food.

Well, as I snaked through one location I found myself wondering how a person with a wheelchair would get around the place--not easily is the conclusion I came to and it made me a little sad to think that maybe something like this wouldn't be a possibility for Charlie (as an adult--God help me if I brought my baby to the Quarter at Mardi Gras). Later we were up on a balcony on Bourbon throwing beads at the tourists. Not to worry--I didn't encourage anyone to remove their clothes! Anyway, down the street I saw two parents pushing their adult son in a wheelchair. Looking at him, I thought it was a pretty safe bet that he had cerebral palsy. I got one of my prettiest bead and started waving to his dad. He saw me, I motioned that the bead was for his son and threw it to him. He put the bead around his son's neck and told him something in his ear. Then, the man in the wheelchair looked right up at me, smiled, and gave a bit of a wave. Incredible feeling.

You know, if the way Charlie is going to change me is to make me more observant, more attuned to people with disabilities and more likely to reach out to them, well, I'm fine with that.