Friday, May 25, 2007

My dirty little secret

I passed a mother and her daughter in our waiting room this morning. The child has a syndrome of one sort or another, leaving her distorted and limp and broken in so many ways.

And here's the icky part: As I passed them, I thought to myself "I'm so glad I don't have a child like that."

I hate that. I am ashamed of it. Because I know that as much as I love my daughter, who is bright and strong and beautiful, that mother loves her daughter -- and maybe even more, although I can't imagine how. Then I remember that two of my dearest friends had, and sadly lost, a child who might have been equally "broken," and I cringe to think that I would have felt the same way about her. I don't think I would have. I pray that I wouldn't have. (I hate that I might have.)

My only redemption, small and pitiful as it is, is remembering that when I see these children face-to-face, and I talk with their families and come to understand their lives just a little bit better, that feeling goes away and is fully replaced with compassion. Too many times I have to explain to a mother why yet another piece of her child is broken beyond repair, and that's when I wish I had elected to be a house painter or grocery bagger or any other job that isn't capable of hurting somebody. But then sometimes, when I'm lucky, I get to make a child's life just a little bit better or just a little more hopeful. And that's what makes everything else worth it.

I don't know what I would do if I had a child who was so physically and mentally impaired. I guess in the long run, I would love it and the rest would take care of itself. Still, I hope I never have to find out. God forgive me for not being a stronger person than that.

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