To the Special Needs Dad I Accosted at the Grocery Store


Dear Sir,

I’m sorry if I freaked you out.

I didn’t mean to.

I was just watching you and your daughter in line at the grocery store.

I was standing with my husband. You were in front of us… and there were about three people in front of you.

As the line slowly moved, I noticed your daughter. She looked a little big to be sitting in the shopping cart. I noticed she was chewing on the seatbelt (which is totally gross). I noticed she didn’t talk and that you would touch her before gesturing something.

I noticed all those little things because they reminded me of my son, Isaac (who also ate the gross seatbelt).

I whispered in my husband’s ear, “Do you think that little girl can talk?”

“Do you think I should say something?”

“Do you think that dad will think I’m totally weird?”

The pressure. I didn’t want to bother you, but my curiosity was getting the best of me. My husband was tired of me asking him questions he didn’t have answers to, and I’m sure you were wondering why I was staring.

Finally, as you paid and were walking away, my husband said, “Go follow him out to the parking lot. It’s OK.”

And I did.

OK, we didn’t make it all the way to the parking lot.

We stopped by the door, and it took all the courage in my 5-foot tall body to speak up: “Excuse me sir, but… can I ask you a question? Does your daughter talk?”

You looked shocked… and I’m sorry I just blurted it out like that (but… I needed to know).

“No… She doesn’t talk… Why?”

I started rambling about how she reminded me of my son who passed away earlier this year. (I’m sorry I blurted that out, too, but, it was honestly what I was thinking. When I’m nervous, it takes me awhile to get to the point.)

My son, Isaac

I told you my husband and I give away iPads to nonverbal children as a way to communicate.

You told me your daughter actually had one at school and one at home and that you used the same program we used with our Isaac.

You kept apologizing to me for the loss of my son. (I’m sorry again I brought that up because it sucks so bad to think about.)

You kept apologizing for your daughter, who kept trying to hit me while we were talking.

Thank you for letting me talk to you about your daughter, for letting me share my son with you (and for not telling me to my face what a crazy woman I am).

Thank you for sharing your daughter’s diagnosis with me.

Thank you for bringing your daughter with you to the grocery store this weekend; it helps heal pieces of my heart every time I can talk about Isaac or help another nonverbal child. Even though you didn’t really need me or my iPads, it was nice to chat.

With love and gratitude,

Your grocery store stalker,

Kathy

*If you would like to donate to iPads From Isaac, we will be sure to get iPads into the hands of those children who need them.

This post originally appeared on Move Your Mountain.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Other

28 Things Spoonies Wish Others Would Stop Saying to Them

In 2003 writer Christine Miserandino published an article on her blog “But You Don’t Look Sick” called “The Spoon Theory.” In the post, she recalled a dinner conversation where she explained to her roommate what living with lupus was like. Miserandino used spoons to measure her energy level and ability to carry out daily tasks. After [...]

5 Common Misconceptions About Special Needs Parents

As the mother of a child with special needs, people often go out of their way to offer me words of encouragement, support and praise. Most of the time, I sincerely appreciate the good intentions behind these confidence builders. Sometimes their words are spot-on. But every once in a while, their comments could not be [...]

48 People With Chronic Illness Who Are Totally 'Faking It'

“But you don’t look sick.” People with chronic and invisible illnesses so often hear this phrase. You’re dressed, out and about and smiling, so you must not actually be in pain, right? Wrong. When we shared the story of Ste Walker, a 24-year-old with Crohn’s disease who posted photos of himself in the hospital after people [...]

When My 6-Year-Old Shared What It's Like to Be Medically Complex

I’m not sure if this list would change depending on the day or how he was feeling, but my son Hartley (who has intestinal failure) saw me writing a piece for The Mighty and decided he wanted to write one, too. I suggested a list of 10 things that describe how he feels being medically [...]