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Why I Don't Want Prayers for a Cure This Rosh Hashanah

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When I was a little girl, I never prayed to G-d to cure to my cerebral palsy. I’ve never desired to be rid of it; I can’t imagine navigating the world without it. I enjoy having to think about every step and motion. Dedicating intention to those acts makes the process worthwhile because it enforces continual presence in everyday life. I can’t daydream. When I do, I fall, and it’s a mess, with papers flying everywhere, and people shouting various renditions of, “Are you OK?” It’s quite funny, really – a fall makes things so awkward. My friends and I can’t do anything else but laugh, and make terrible and morbid jokes about it later. My limp and falls are normal to them. A few have even admitted to forgetting about it, which was why I was so surprised when my best friend asked me for my Hebrew name.

“For what use?” I said, laughing. “You want to know who my dad is? Call me when you find out!”

For those of you who do not know what a Hebrew name is, it’s usually a child’s given name followed by their parents’ names. Things are a little more complicated for me because I’m an adoptee with no father.

He chocked out a laugh and I knew something was up. I think he realized I knew too. “You know how Rosh Hashanah is on Monday, right? And that, you know, there’s a prayer for healing…”

“Oh G-d, not this…” I thought. “I don’t need healing!” I spat, probably a little too violently. I wasn’t angry, I just hate the conversations which come out of things like this. I hate explaining why I wouldn’t want to be cured. It’s bizarre for most people to hear, they can’t fathom living with – and embracing – a disability. I suppose they see it as something tragic; they don’t know the wonderful community a disability opens someone up to, and the world which we live in. It’s truly a magical place, where hope and reality are forever intertwined and belonging is simple – heartbreaking, but lovely.

I sat down with him and apologized. I explained that I don’t see myself as broken or sick. There’s nothing I’m missing out on by taking one step at a time. In fact, I’d argue that I experience more because I am forced to slow down and remain present at all times. That’s the one thing I wish able-bodied people would learn about me; I’m not broken, or sad about my state – I can’t imagine myself without it. Don’t get me wrong, I do sometimes envy able-bodied people, and long for their seeming simplicity. I wish that I could have the courage to accept an invitation to a dance or have the energy to hang out after school, but I know that they have their own battles too, and it’s often best to stick with the devil we know.

He asked me, “Well, what do you want to bring into the New Year, then?”

I shrugged. He laughed.

“A listening ear – for both of us. Tell me, what is it like to be normal?” I asked. We laughed, at the absurdity of the question – normalcy is subjective, after all. If I had to bring anything into the new year, I would remember that it’s silly to wish for normalcy – it’s unachievable for everyone, able-bodied or not.

Happy New Year, everyone! L’Shana Tova u’Metucha!

Originally published: October 2, 2016
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