To Nathaniel Norris
Nathaniel had Cri Du Chat Syndrome which caused him severe developmental delays and mental retardation. Nathaniel has passed to a better place, and his parents are writing a book about their experiences with a special needs child. They asked for a comment (me??? Just one comment???) for the book. I thought I'd post it.
"Meeting Nathaniel was a life-changing experience for me. It gave me reason to examine my previous ideas of families with special needs children. This change in me wasn't just because Nathaniel was a happy, fun-loving little boy. It wasn't just that his sweet smile melted my heart. It wasn't even his response to me and others that made me realize how special he was. No, you, Nancy and David, and your attitude toward Nathaniel was what really impressed me.
Your love for Nathaniel was obvious in your care of him, demonstrated not just by his cleanliness and the cute clothes he wore, but by the gentleness in your manner to him, the obvious joy with which you greeted his smile, his movement, his attempts to reach out. Granted, there was profound sadness contemplating the things that he would never be able to do. In spite of that genuine cause for grief, you were joyful in celebrating his humanity, the milestones he reached. The absence of disappointment spoke to me. Your disappointment was reserved for people who did not acknowledge his humanity, could not celebrate his personhood.
I was moved deeply. Later when everyone was purchasing gifts for the children at home, I felt compelled to buy that huge Panda for Nathaniel. I could envision his wide-mouthed grin, hoping he would like the softness of its touch. But mostly, I wanted to treat him special because you did, because he was not, nor ever would be an invisible child. No, Nathaniel was someone special. Your love for him gave him that gift. And I've never forgotten the lesson."