Saturday, April 22, 2006

Learning to Cherish the Gift of Life

While working as a consultant for a small school district, I was asked to place a visit to one of the students that was severely disabled. I was asked to stimulate him through friendly interactions and play. I arrived to the classroom with my box of instructional toys, and was introduced to a small, eight-year-old boy strapped in a wheelchair. I greeted him, but he did not respond. I grabbed his hand, but his fingers were limp. His little head was slumped over. The child had not even looked up at me. I took my hand and placed it under his chin and lifted his darling head up. “Hello.”, I said. No salutation, moan, laugh, or wiggle came from the child. “How can I play with this child?” I thought. “His body is here, but he’s not.” I wanted to put all of my toys back in the box and leave. I felt saddened and upset for the child. How could anyone want to live that way? But I couldn’t leave. I had to do my job.

I tried to get a response out of him with my toys. I pulled out my rattle and put it in his hand. But his fingers did not grip the handle. I cuffed my hand over his hand so that he would hold the rattle. I shook it. But the boy did not respond. I pulled out my talking, school bus that sings the alphabet. But he was not interested in the bus or the happy melody that poured from the bus.

His teacher suggested that I try a toy that she described as his favorite. I placed his small, bony hands on the colorful toy and pushed a button, the toy started to vibrate and ring silly sounds. I couldn’t believe my ears. The child hummed a high pitched sound that sounding like he was expressing joy. “What? A sound from the boy?” I thought. Then I heard light tones coming from his mouth. His teacher said that he was laughing. I pressed another button, the toy buzzed and rattled. The happy sound came from the boy again. I was so delighted to see this lifeless child be filled with happiness and joy.

Last year, when the highly controversial case of Terri Schiavo, a severely brain damaged woman, who was in the middle of a highly inflammatory legal dispute between her parents and her husband on whether or not to keep her alive, was introduced to the world by the American press, I thought about my small, severely disabled student. I’m ashamed to admit that I initially thought this darling boy’s life was not worth living. But inside of his little body was a little boy that enjoyed what I thought of as simple and unimportant. He was enjoying life in his own way. I’m sure that the child’s mother would have been devastated if her little one was completely taken from her. Instead of being bitter about what she did not have in a son, she cherished every part of her little boy.

I learned from that experience that all life is valuable and that we should cherish every morsel of life. I also discovered that no matter how fractured or impaired a person’s abilities are, joy, love, peace, and happiness can be and should be experienced by every living person.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you learned that all life is valuable. It is not up to us to determine if someone's life is worth living.

julie volz said...

yaeh so many people think just becouse someone is not the same of as them that we should just for get them evry body has their diffances some just worse then other when i was about to have my son last year my husband asked me what are we going to do if the baby comes out with something wrong with it i just look at him and said love it what else.

Cherry Azucena said...

I admire your determination and the outcome of realization here in this situation. There are things in life we don't always understand and in this particular situation it shows the understanding that I believe the Creator made possible for us to realize. Sure there are lots of things and events we often find ourselves wondering about. We ask a lot of whys, hows, and whats and in time we find our answers right there infront of us.I believe that life itself is a gift and blessings. I often remind myself, in times I'm just about to give up; God will not put me through tests he knows I would not be able to handle. I'm not saying that my beliefs are the only bases of truth, I'm sure it is easier for one to say something or simply give his/her opinion/advice when he/she is not in the same situation, but when it is happening to him/her it is hard to follow the same advice that we give them, just like that controversial issue about Terri. Our decisions, as long as we think about them and we are aware and prepared for its consequences, makes us stronger and learn. For that is one component of being unique from one another.

Anonymous said...

This story is a heart touching and learn to deal with a very sensitive matter of life. Nobody have right to decide that whose life is worth living for or not. For parents especially mothe r no matter what condition her child is , is worth more than anything for her that the child is in front of eyes and she is doing things for her baby. People can be that cruel and open their mouth and say mean and hurtful things and don't think that they can be in the same situation. Always think before opening your mouth and respect a living human life. Saira neely

tracey n. said...

I know how you felt when you first seen that little boy. I work in nursing home and at first i thought a nursing home was only for old people. I met this young beautiful lady, she is only 34 but she first arrived there to the home when she was 26. She was in a terrible car accident the day of her graduation which left her immobile from the neck down, though little by little she regained some movement but not fully and cannot speak, she only moans. Her mother and step father see her everyday and treat her like if there was nothing wrong with her. It breaks my heart just to think that that happened to her at that age were everybody is enjoying theirs. But if God gave her the chance to live anyways I guess thats all that really matters and in her own, way like you said, she is probably enjoying her life to the fullest with everybody around her that loves her. Maybe we shouldn't feel sorry for people in that state but there really isn't a way to go around it at frist. Well thats my experience with a sort of the same situation and I enjoyed reading your article. Hope to read many more.

krystal c. said...

This is a wonderful article, I enjoyed reading it as well as all the responses. I agree with everyone who responded, life is a wonderful thing that we should not take for granted and we should not choose for other to have life. The Lord our father is the only one who knows when we go and us as humans or loved ones should not make this choice for anyone just leave it in the hands of the Lord. But, while we are alive and living lets enjoy each other and be there for one another to show how much we really care, words or physical actions don't have to be involved for one to really know that we are loved and trully wanted.

c.brooks said...

This is a touching story. I believe our encounters are no mistake. I believe we should reach down inside and see what we are to take from our daily encounters. This gives us a new perpective of what people have to overcome. I believe God places us where he needs us to be. Rather it be for us,the other person or both. More than likely both parties will be affected. c.brooks

Claudia Cardenas said...

I have to say this story touched me, and I got exited when the boy made a sound. Sometimes we have to take someone's problems and compare them to ours and realize that ours are not that bad. There are times when I don't know what to do with my children because they won't stop jumping, screaming and running around the house. They literally drive me crazy, but before I go to bed,as mad as I am,I get over it. I peek in their room, they are fast asleep, and I give them a kiss good night then realize that this home just wouln't be the same without their exitement.