Then there's disAbility grief. A form of grief that never ends. If dealt with, it lessens. It diminishes. But, because there is no death, no making a developmental disAbility go bye-bye forever (not that I would if I could,) this form of grief cycles, spurred by milestones and life events in the face of the lack of normalcy.
And there am I. A work in progress. Processing grief that once again is cycling. And I've been on this particular grief jaunt in degrees for the past handful of years. The stimulus is my daughter's aging into young adulthood, which is both fraught by the subject at hand--public perception--and the dwindling state of services for her.
I speak to groups about dealing with grief. I share all these things. And yet, I've cycled smack dab and haven't processed completely out of that thorny issue of public perception. And, that's okay, too. It's a process. It's this particular bend in my journey. I coped quite well with the stares these many years. But there's something different about an adult young woman marching--head leading her body in a 90 degree angle--down a sidewalk pumping her arms up and down, elbows out. Or many on the list of her autistic oddities: straddle rocking out, one leg to the other, to the musak in the middle of the grocery isle or quickly sniffing a stranger's hair, etc., etc., etc.
She's just. More. Noticeable. A kid acting this way is one thing. Someone the size of an adult, another.
Long have I said that our individuals with special needs are a barometer of the hearts of those around them. How do they react?: With alarm? Disdain? Snickers? Rude stares? Fear? Or, compassion: A smile. A knowing. A friendly hello, I see you and it's okay. Maybe an I understand.
And how might I react if I were them seeing my daughter?
I can go back in my life and review the ways I have acted that were less than compassionate. It hurts to think that I acted that way. That I said those things. And then I douse myself with a helping of mercy. And remember: compassion starts at home. And it transfers to this here and this now.
Can I...I said this is a process. A journey that I am on...Can I have compassion for those who act in ways that are less compassionate? Can I ACCEPT their own journeys?
I'm shifting. One step at a time to this level of transformation. I'll get back with you on my progress.
This photo was snapped by yours truly, capturing a more and more rare sedate moment of Grace; patiently waiting on her mother at Nordstrom.