I can't remember why I was feeling so blue that day so long ago. I only remember that I was feeling overwhelmed and sad. Since I was feeling that way, I was relieved that the early morning call for me to sub wasn't a regular classroom assignment. I didn't feel quite up to doing that sort of job today. Instead, I was offered a job with some severely mentally and physically handicapped children.
I had subbed for that teacher before. There were five students and each one had their own SEA (special education assistant). None of the children could walk or talk. In fact, for the most part they appeared to be pretty much unaware of the world around them. Due to brain-damage and multiple health problems, none of them were expected to reach adulthood or even their teenage years.
These are the children the world likes to hide in dark corners and talk about how it would have been better for them to have never been born. They are called mistakes and steps need to be taken to ensure they are never born because there cannot possibly be any reason for them to live. They don't contribute to society. They're quality of life is poor. They are frequently abandoned and become wards of the State. I've heard all of these excuses and many more.
Saleeca couldn't walk or talk. She had to be changed and fed like an infant. Her beautiful brown eyes wandered about aimlessly. Once in a while they seemed to look at you for an instant. Then they were gone. When I would sit close to her talking or singing her arm would sometimes flop around until it hit my face. Sometimes she would pull on my hair but all of the while, she would look off into space somewhere.
Saleeca was seven years old. She couldn't read or write. She didn't color or play games with other children. She didn't giggle with other seven year old girls, play with Barbies, ride bicycles, talk about sleepovers or do any of the other things seven year old girls like to do.
That day, we headed down to the gym. The physical therapist was going to work with the kids for awhile. This was my break time but I decided to just sit in the gym and chat for awhile. Saleeca was unstrapped from her chair and placed on a mat. She immediately began inching forward using her arms. Her useless legs dragged behind her.
After a little while, we noticed that Saleeca seemed to be headed somewhere in particular. We decided to see what she was trying to do. The minutes ticked by as she continued to patiently inch her way off the mat and across the floor. She was headed in my direction.
She finally reached me. We were curious as to what she was going to do. She managed to pull herself part way up my body. Then, reaching up she pulled my head down by hers. She struggled for a moment and then managed to work an arm around my neck. Then very carefully, she rubbed her cheek back and forth against my own.
The gloomy cloud that hung over me broke suddenly. I took her in my arms and hugged her tightly. "Oh Saleeca, I love you too!" I said.
The talking in the room ceased. We all looked in awe at the little girl who had inched her way across a gym floor to say I love you in her own special way. She knew just what I needed and I am so glad she was willing to make the effort to do it.
As I said, I don't remember what triggered my feelings that day, but I do remember Saleeca. I will never forget how I entered this small child's world that day and she impacted me in a way I never imagined. I thank God for Saleea and the beautiful lesson she taught me! Every life is precious and every life has worth. Every life can make an impact on the world around them if we're only willing to listen and learn.
What a sweet story. I used to volunteer at a theraputic riding center for disabled kids. It was one of the best feelings to have those kids smile and shake your hand or give you a hug after the lesson. The kids were the sweetest kids. They would always brighten my day and talking to some of them was such a blessing. Thanks for this blog!
[quote=youaregolden]What a sweet story. I used to volunteer at a theraputic riding center for disabled kids. It was one of the best feelings to have those kids smile and shake your hand or give you a hug after the lesson. The kids were the sweetest kids. They would always brighten my day and talking to some of them was such a blessing. Thanks for this blog! God Bless!!YSIC,-Golden[/quote]
My daughter is volunteering at the same type of program.
Great Blog...thanks for sharing.
There is no greater joy in service than helping those who cannot help themselves. There is no greater fulfillment in this life than giving to someone else something they could never in a million lifetimes get for themselves. There is no greater love in life than that which is shared between those who truly see past what is outward to the inner heart of beauty.
A very wonderful and heartwarming story. Thank you.
K -Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story. My nephew is one of these children the world would like to forget. At six he underwent surgery for a very intrusive brain tumor. He is now in his late twenties and has made medical history because no one has lived this long after what he went through. His treatments are all experimental and have been for years. I will never forget his 18th birthday when he informed his mom that he did not want anymore kids gifts. He told his mom "I am a man now, I have a mustache now and you need to see that I am a man!" With hidden tears she told him she would try to remember that. Nicholas is now nearly completely blind and can not walk anymore and his speech is very slurred but he is still a blessing to all who take the time to just chat with him. That is unless he is watching the 3 stooges -then he won't talk to you and doesn't hesitate to tell you to be quiet please.
K , I will make sure my daugther Carly reads this wonderful Blog, for she now is a teachers assi. in a CE class in our middle school here. And would love to share some more wonderful stories with you.Her life is so blessed by these very special children. We are all God's creation. She now attends college to be a CE teacher, Thanks for sharing how loving this child could be if only we take time to listen... love AJ