I stood at the cashier’s counter waiting to pay for a steel-gray and orange patterned Under-Armor sneakers for my son.
Sean stood fidgeting beside me, playing Super Mario cart on his red Nintendo DS-XL. He struggles with the racing games and does better with the logical games, where he uncannily unlocks secret tunnels, levels and special powers.
I was expecting his usual eighth place in this race (Ok, that would be the last place) when he suddenly chuckled unreservedly loud, and announced to the universe, “I won!”
At first it didn’t register, because I was waiting for my card status on the panel to announce that my further descent into debt had been approved by the goddess of wants – Visa.
“I won…I won, Mom!” He announced again, excited and waving the large red screen in the air, startling the cashier and her colleague who just ducked behind the check-out counter, presumably returning from his break.
“…the war came to me in my dreams and showed me its sole purpose: to go on, only to go on.” Kevin Powers.
“He is really excited,” the young woman in skinny brown jeans remarked quietly, puzzled.
Well, You have no idea, I thought, as I turned to acknowledge my son’s victory over Mario, Toad, Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser and the members of the Mushroom Kingdom. In my peripheral vision, I caught the same looks from the other customers on the line behind me.
I felt sorry for everyone else trying to wrap their heads around the fact that his speech sounded like he held two ounces of water in his mouth which meant the words sounded like they rolled over waves and that he was still dangerously waving that extra-large red screen over his head. I knew he wasn’t acting out, he was just too excited to contain himself and wanted to share his joy.
When people first see Sean, they always tells me, “He seems normal.” And my response usually is, “What do you mean normal?” How does one fully and without bias define normal?
“All pain is the same. Only the details are different.” Kevin Powers.
For me normal is having a boy who has never told a lie, who is a maths genius and can calculate complex equations off the top of his head. A big boy who waits, beaming with arms always open wide – even in middle school – for a hug from his mom!
Does he have struggles? Yes, but he is a fighter and his heart is so pure and remains loving regardless. Somehow I think he already knows he’ll win. His progress in school has given so much hope to his teachers, that they have opened their arms and minds to accept that no matter the diagnosis, learning is not impossible.
He is my life’s guru, teaching me to be patient with whatever life presents. His light doesn’t need much help, it just shines!
We are all distinctly defined by circumstances and experiences. The cumulative or acquired set of values make up our life and that’s where we draw from and how we project our judgements and definitions of normalcy on others.
All around us, when we see all kinds of expressions and different flavors of the divine – we are often tempted to judge or super-impose the elements from our own cultural buckets. Instead we can choose to be open to experience new things, share someone’s pain or joy and strengthen each other with kindness and gratitude, knowing that we are all witnesses to grace.
Let’s keep our eyes and hearts open to fully embrace life’s rich experiences.
With arms open wide,