Few things clear my head like a ride in the car. No kids screaming in the background, just me, the open road & good music to get my mind turning. I have often used the car and a drive to quench my thirst for calm. It is my meditation, my calm. Many a good argument or emotional outburst can be alleviated with a simple drive. I have found this true since I was 16 new to the world of driving and it has carried me through to my current years in mommy-land. I have used the car to rock a crying toddler to sleep on numerous occasions carefully parking and carrying their tired little beings to the safety of their beds. Today I drove my favorite route to drop my youngest at his play date with papaw. The ride to our selected point was full of chatter which I enjoyed but the peace on the ride home was nothing short of divine.
Driving today I allowed myself to digest the past few years. Our journey into the world of infantile scoliosis, the years of treatment our little family has endured and the lessons that I have to learn from my journey ever present in my thoughts. To kill two birds with one stone I stopped on my way home to do my grocery shopping at the store on the other side of town. It was on the way home and would break my cycle of postponing the inevitable. While in the store I glanced to my left in the milk aisle and spotted a face from my childhood. I would have never guessed a glance in a store combined with the ride home would grant me such important lessons from Karma...one of lifes greatest teachers.
Jennifer was beautiful, popular, sporty, & always on top of trends when we were in grade school. I attended a private catholic grade school with 24 in my 8th grade graduating class. There were 10 girls, 14 boys I shared a classroom with from 4th-8th grade. Of the 10 girls there were 5 popular girls, 3 stuck in the middle and 2 who kept completely to themselves. I was one of the 3 stuck in the middle. I was awkward, we lived in a modest middle class home with working parents. I wasn't particularly athletic, I tried out for cheer-leading and made the team 2 of my 4 years. I tried to fit in by badgering my mom to buy the right label clothes but keeping up with the Jone's wasn't my moms thing. I often felt outside the loop. When I was teased from the top, I would in turn tease what I perceived to be the bottom. The object of my poor behavior was a girl named Tina. Tina had scoliosis. She was constantly out of school for appointments and would complain constantly about her discomfort. She was brash in her behavior always ready for a fight. This in my eyes made her the perfect target. No one would care if I lashed out at Tina because she was so mean anyways. Upon graduating 8th grade Tina's family chose to send her to the catholic high school across town. As a parent now I am certain they were trying to find an escape from the taunting she endured for those 8 years with the same girls.
It was Jennifer I saw at the grocery today and Tina I couldn't shake from my mind as I drove home.
Scoliosis to me growing up was no big deal. So they had a crooked spine, big deal. I was the kind of kid who would advocate for the oppressed. I spent two years in high school volunteering as a teachers assistant at the Children's Psychiatric Center in our home town. It is a residential facility for children with emotional and physical handicaps who are wards of the state. I would have crushed anyone who dared to make fun of another person for physical or emotional problems yet I never deemed a child with scoliosis worthy of that advocacy. I went out of my way to spend spring and summer breaks doing service projects Appalachia & Selma, AL yet I turned my head the two times I could have made a difference in the lives of people I knew because I judged their condition not worthy.
The saying Karma's a bitch simply doesn't apply in this lesson. I want to thank Karma or better yet God as her guide for the lessons life has given me. The very condition I poo pooed as unworthy of my attention has in turn become my life's work. I allowed my thoughts of Tina and David, a story for another day, to fill my heart today. I have often wondered where their journey took them. I remembered a conversation I had with Tina at some point in our childhood, one of the rare moments when she talked and I listened, she mentioned being a patient at St. Louis Shriner's Hospital for Children. What amazing parallel paths our lives would someday take if only I had taken more time to listen.
Until next time, keep it curvy~