If I Could Talk
If I was given a chance to talk, I would have quite a lot to say. Fact is, I can’t talk, so what’s the point of dreaming about it, really? Well, maybe one day I will be called upon to say a few words, in that special place where the blind can see, the deaf can hear…and the autistic child can speak.
People speak quite freely in my presence, so I have picked up on the basic speech patterns of those around me. Staff, parents of other clients, even the custodians talk to one another, with me sitting there. The expression on my face never changes, so how are they to know I am internalizing their words?
For one thing, I’ve noticed that many people seem to prefer staying mad at people than actually doing something about it! Sometimes I want to jump out of my wheelchair and scream, “How do you know that’s what the person meant with her remark?” Or, “Did you know that person received devastating news just before you met him?”
And even if the person was really, obviously wrong – no two ways about it – how important is the matter? And, can you let it go, or at least keep quiet about it, since you can’t change the situation anyway? And if it’s too painful; you’re still working through it, does the whole world have to be drawn into it?
I wonder, is there a good feeling people have when they stay“upset”, day after day? I simply do not understand. And it’s not for lack of similar experiences. I only lack the ability to comment.
Being a mute autistic in a wheelchair, motionless, expressionless, and unable to communicate, I have had to swallow many insults to my pride and dignity. I can tell when the aides are disgusted by my endless drooling, and I know it’s unpleasant to tend to all my personal needs. I’m aware, yet I can express neither thanks nor apologies.
Sitting on the sidelines, I often hear the banter about “my condition”. Was it a birth injury? A lack of oxygen? Perhaps an inept midwife? And I want to shout, “Does it really matter? Are you able to turn back the clock and fix me? Can you, by talking, make this terrible illness go away?” If not, I conclude to myself, please, for heaven’s sake, don’t add to my pain by discussing me where I can plainly hear you.
Why do I share this? Because not only can I not convey my feelings or defend myself – difficult, I also can’t speak loshon hara, start a rumor, or peddle gossip. Boruch Hashem! It is physically impossible for me to use my tongue or lips for speaking in ways that hurt others. My soul rejoices over this.
But, as a human being, how I wish I had the precious gift of speech. You are all so fortunate, do you realize?
If I could talk for just a few hours, I would run from lonely person to lonely person, telling them jokes, making them laugh, cheering them up! I would whisper to parents about how patient and kind they are with their children, and remind children to appreciate their parents, and never, ever take them for granted. I would tell husbands, “your wife is the best thing that ever happened to you!” and encourage wives, “your family relies on you like a rock, even if they don’t show it.”
If I could talk, for even a few minutes, I would say Modeh Ani, with all my heart! Or Asher Yotzar…for the gift of a fully-working body, and the ability to speak as well.
Sigh… I would never waste those precious few minutes on slander, or ruining someone’s reputation. Rehashing small slights over and over and over again. “Am I right?” “Isn’t that a nerve?”
It’s painful to be subjected to negative speech about others, but I cannot just leave the room on my own. You, on the other hand, can use your fingers to plug your ears, your mouth to say “let’s not discuss people”, and your feet to walk away.
I guess I will never understand why people take the gift of speech lightly. But, if I could talk, perhaps – although I don’t want to admit this – perhaps I, too, would succumb to the temptation to put down others. Ugh, it doesn’t sound tempting at all.
Meanwhile, I have no choice but to absorb any pain others may cause me. It’s hard, but not impossible.
How do I deal with it? I watch my thoughts.
If I let the anger fester, it will show somehow in my eyes. And I don’t want to glower at the people who are helping me!
So when people are speaking negatively, I think: they don’t realize, they don’t know how they sound, they would not do this if this was their last day on earth. We may think we have plenty of time to “work on” ourselves, to fix all our bad habits. And we may. But it takes time to be cured of vices; let’s start sooner, rather than later!
There is something else I’d like to share.
Problems, I assume, visit everyone – at one point or another. I hear people complaining about being “stressed out”, and “overworked” and “falling apart”.
Could a vacation alleviate some of that strain and pressure?
The other day someone left an old paper in the dining room. There was an eye-catching ad about Lakewood Kosher Vacation Villas from LakewoodHosts.com.
Seemed like an idea that would put most people at ease, if they could arrange to stay there for a while. I would be very happy if someone offered to bring me to any Lakewood Kosher Vacation Villa.
It would be nice to have a change of scenery from the group home I live at, but too complicated of course. By the time the aides would be done packing up all my paraphernalia, it would be time to unpack and come home!
It’s alright, I enjoyed just looking at the beautiful blue pool, and green grass in the photo, even if I couldn’t turn the page myself. I’m sure some lucky family is booking a reservation right now at a Lakewood Kosher Vacation Villa from LakewoodHosts.com!
And I’m 100% happy for them. And’ sure they’ll be 100% happy with their choice as well. A win-win for all!