I remember so clearly the night I found this poem, it was the night we were told that our daughter had congenital abnormalities and we were at that stage unsure what the future held for us and our unborn child. I didn't save the poem at that time and went back to search for it but couldn't find it. A few weeks after Yasminah was born, I found it again, or rather it found me. Although I am Muslim and believe in Allah, I still connected with this poem. The thought that somehow I had been 'choosen' for choice of a better word to bare a child who was different, who would be deemed by society as 'disabled' was life changing.
It is natural to ask why? Why me? Why our baby? What did we do wrong? I treated my body as a temple when I was trying to conceive and finally pregnant. After having such a hard battle and fight to even bare a child, I knew how sacred the gift of life was. I ate a balanced diet, I drank 8 glasses of water every day, I slept on my left side, I did gentle exercise, I didn't smoke or drink or take drugs, so WHY did this happen to me?
This poem in many ways answered that question and helped......it wasn't anything I did or didn't do, but God knew that I could handle this. We have a saying that Allah will never give you anything more than you can handle in life. This still seems somewhat cruel and very hard to hear, but in many ways I understand it and can appreciate the gift I was given.
Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures, and a couple by habit. This year, nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of disabled children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of disabled children are chosen?
Somehow, I visualize God hovering over Earth selecting His instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger:
"Armstrong, Beth, son. Patron saint, Matthew."
"Forest, Marjorie, daughter. Patron saint, Cecilia."
"Rutledge, Carrie, twins. Patron saint…give her Gerald. He's used to profanity."
Finally, He passes a name to an angel and smiles. "Give her a disabled child."
The angel is curious. "Why this one, God? She's so happy."
"Exactly," smiles God. "Could I give a disabled child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel."
"But does she have patience?" asks the angel.
"I don't want her to have too much patience, or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she'll handle it."
"I watched her today. She has that sense of self and independence that are so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has his own world. She has to make it live in her world and that's not going to be easy."
"But Lord, I don't think she even believes in you."
God smiles, "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness."
The angel gasps. "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?"
God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied."
"She will never take for granted a spoken word. She will never consider a step ordinary.
When her child says "Momma" for the first time, she will be witness to a miracle and know it. When she describes a tree or a sunset to her blind child, she will see it as few people ever see my creations."
"I will permit her to see clearly the things I see – ignorance, cruelty, prejudice – and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side."
"And what about her patron saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air.
God smiles. "A mirror will suffice."