Man at the Market

I took Jingle to the Farmer’s Market yesterday morning. After tactfully extricating myself from a conversation with my Mennonite friend who was adament animals have no souls, I walked around with purpose, gathering my wares.

-Beets

-Potatoes

-Onions

-Bread

-Butter

“Good girl, Jingle! Good girl.”

After finishing shopping I took the opportunity to walk Jingle around the whole market, getting her acclimated without Riley in preparation for the next outing with Riley. One woman stopped me to ask about her. Then another stopped, then a man, who kind of hung back, listening to the conversation.  He seemed a bit odd. Perhaps homeless? Perhaps mentally ill? I couldn’t put my finger on it.

“She’s a service dog for my daughter. We just brought her home two days ago.”

“Is your daughter blind?” a woman asked.

“She has autism.”

The man stepped forward and touched me on the forearm.  

“I just had to touch you. Bless your heart,” he said, beaming kindness. 

He was holding me in reverence because my child has autism.

Most of us who have kids on the spectrum have been looked at with scorn. With judgement. With pity. With blame. With, “Whew, thank God I dodged that bullet.”  I don’t know if I’ve ever received reverence before.  

My first thoughts about this man were, “Perhaps homeless? Perhaps mentally ill?” I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Perhaps angel? Perhaps teacher?

Perhaps a reminder to hold reverence, for everyone.

Too Much Togetherness

Day six of being together 24/7 in a small hotel suite. I can feel myself gasping for breath. Not literally, but I do feel a slow suffocation. I’m out of my element. We can’t go out to eat (per Seth’s health issues) and therefore I’m preparing every meal in a tiny kitchenette with no counter space. No matter where I turn, someone is in my way. I am a person who needs a lot of space. I used to fight it, worried I might be too high maintenance. I no longer apologize for needing what I need.

Yesterday, during our lunch hour, I went out to the van and did a meditation while Todd took the kids to the outside play area and let them bounce on the trampoline. The wildest thing happened.

In my meditation, the whole crew at 4 Paws, all the families and staff, became a cast of performers. We were all there, doing a play about a place that trains service dogs. We were actually taking our curtain call. The two beautiful actresses playing the kids in wheelchairs, stood up and walked, unlimited in every way, smiling huge grins as they took their bows.

The  actors who played the other children with disabilities came forth one by one to the front of the stage, radiant, clear headed, composed. 

When Riley came forward, she got rave applause, her acting was so complex, yet so subtle, and had earned the respect of the audience.

We all came forward together, the supporting actors who played the part of concerned and loving parents. The siblings took their bows. The employees at 4 Paws.

Jeremy the head trainer came out, and took his curtain call with all the dogs in class. They all bowed together and the crowd went wild.

I came out of this meditation feeling exhilarated. Like I’d gotten a glimpse of who these kids really are, beyond their physical or cognitive limitations.

This afternoon I locked myself in the bedroom in our hotel suite and did another meditation. It was not filled with imagery, just relaxation. 

Whatever comes of it, I’m better when I take the time to meditate.  I’m a kinder person, a more patient mother, a more tolerant woman. I feel better about life.

I no longer apologize for needing time to myself.

If you have high expectations of the kind of person you want to be, high maintenance is required.