A Thank You Letter to My Son's Disabilities
Dear Deafness and 22q,
Yes, I’m talking to you, and I just want to say thank you.
What’s that, you say? You think you heard me wrong? No, you heard correctly. I have thanks to give to you.
Deafness, you and I don’t always see eye-to-eye. When I ask my child if he’d heard a noise and he didn’t, I don’t particularly like you; I want him to hear everything. Intelligible speech took quite a while because of you, and I wasn’t the most patient of waiters. When I must repeat myself for what seems like the millionth time for my child to hear and understand me or he must repeat himself many times before being understood, you’re not my friend. Deafness, at times you lead to frustration on both parent and child. Oh, but my friend, you see, you’ve brought much good to us too, and you should also know about that.
It’s because of you I truly treasure the speech my child has; it’s a gift not to be taken for granted. Because of you our paths have crossed with many wonderful people, many of whom have become lifelong friends who we would have never met had it not been for you. I’m talking about the audiologist who gave my child the gift of having wonder and amazement in his eyes as he heard a fan for the first time. I’m talking about the deaf infant teacher who helped our family begin this journey, about the teachers at the school for the deaf who have nurtured and encouraged the thirst and yearning for learning and knowledge that my child. I’m talking about the speech therapist who gave my child the gift of meaningful communication. I thank you for allowing these people to cross our paths. You see, Deafness, you’re a part of my child to be embraced, but you don’t define him, and with every negative you bring you also bring a positive. So again, for that I say thank you.
22q, don’t feel left out. I also have thanks to give to you. You’re a tricky one. You’re the one that has the power to make my eyes well up with tears, my knees tremble and my stomach churn with fear. With you there are so many unknowns. A higher risk of Parkinson’s disease, mental illnesses and so much more. I don’t like the unknown, and therefore I don’t always like you. It hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies with you, but that’s OK. You see, just like Deafness you come with your own set of positives.
It’s because of you that I’m that Mom. What Mom is that, you ask? The mom who carries a tab-divided, color-coded binder to all appointments, the mom who’s in touch with those who work with her child on a regular basis, the one who unapologetically considers herself the needy mom. Sure, if it wasn’t for you I would have been a good mom, but I wouldn’t have been that mom — the mom I am today. 22q, it’s because of you that my child knows what it’s like to watch others breeze by him doing things with ease that are difficult for him. It’s also because of you that my child knows what hard work and determination are; you have given him no choice in the matter. When week after week my child tries to do something and then finally one day he does, I’m able to see a smile grows across his face and a twinkle in his eyes. It’s in these moments that my child is learning, because of you, that with hard work he can achieve success. You see, 22q, just like Deafness you’re a part of my child that’s to be embraced, but you don’t define him, and with every negative you, too, have brought positives. And for that I say thank you.
The Mom who doesn’t always like you but has learned to embrace the positives you give us.
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