December 02, 2016

A Word to the Disabled

A WORD TO THE DISABLED

I wasn't disabled myself
But I was, briefly,
Semi-disabled.
A blur of gray,
An attempt to turn and spin and brake
And a crash.
A compact car loses
To a full-size truck.

I stare at my arm
And my displaced hand.
With numbness,
Then shock.
"Shattered,"
The doctor said;
"Not your typical break."

Lids don't turn;
Tops don't pop;
Tab don't pull.
Not for months, not easily.
Not with that left arm.
I learn that life is more difficult
When I can't open the diced tomatoes
With my hand can opener.
Having to learn new ways
Of putting on shirts
And not even wearing some,
Because it was too hard,
Is part of a process, too.

I've gotten better.
Fortunately, if not young,
Despite my PT's words,
I'm not old.
I'm healing
And looking at full recovery.

But, I've learned, 
At least briefly,
What it's like to be semi-disabled,
And gained
A bit of empathy
For the fully disabled.

It's not just physical challenges, 
Or so it seems.
Fear. Anxiety. Frustration.
Many other emotions.

And, to the disabled —
I hope I remember
At least a bit of what I have learned.

You don’t want patronization
Any more than pity.
You’d like respect, and understanding,
Along with sympathy.
Even better — empathy, if possible.

Above all, you’d simply
Like to be seen as human.
And not a mascot,
Not an “always on” inspiration,
Or otherwise on a pedestal.

Simply human.
With the full gamut
Of human emotions
And human drives.

I hope I remember.
If I don’t,
Especially if I know you personally —

Please remind me.

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