I was heading towards the bus this afternoon when one of those people that are asking for money for a charitable organization on the street stopped me. “Excuse me, Sir? How are you tonight?”
“Good. Going to catch a bus.”
“Then I won’t keep you long. We help disabled people live a better life. Do you know any disabled people, sir?”
“I do. I’m disabled.”
He looked me over with a look of shock on his face. “Oh, you are?”
He didn’t believe me. Without knowing me, he judged me because he couldn’t see my disabilities.
I know that I’m lucky. Unless you really watch me walk, my Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Sclerosis are invisible. It’s not like I’m wearing a green and orange neon sign above my head that flashes out the words “Invisibly Disabled”.
There were a lot of ways that I could have responded to this.
People have suggested that I carry cards with me telling people what I have. Another suggestion is to carry pamphlets in my bag to hand out or cue cards with notes that I could tell them on the spot.
I haven’t done any of these things. I used to run away and not say anything. Then I would berate myself for not saying anything. I know that’s not the way to do things either, that my disabilities should not be a source of shame.
They are part of me. They are part of me, even if they can’t be seen. I had to make peace with Cedric and Max a long time ago, otherwise how would I truly live? If I hated my CP and MS, that would be like hating myself. That’s no way to live.
If there was a neon sign above my head, I would hope that it would say sparkle on or dream big, something like that. Something hopeful that would fill me with hope. I also realize that I can plant the seed but it’s up to them if they want the flower to grow.
So, instead of getting angry at the man, who was just doing his job, I gave him a small smile and said “I am. I give to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada in hopes that they will one day fine a cure. I apologize that I can’t help you.”
I saw his smirk disappear and I walked away, hoping that I had planted a seed that would hopefully grow into a flower.