Touch: The Journal of Healing


A Little Perspective

    by Larina Warnock

Usually, he lies on a blanket in front of the television.  His hair is short, surrounding his face in chestnut tufts.  Almond-shaped eyes of a deep brown hue glance to and fro, often moving before he can muster the strength to turn his head.  When the grey and white drapes in the living room are open, and the sun casts its rays down upon his face, those eyes sparkle and gleam, as though nothing in the world is horrible or sad.  During these times, he moves himself closer to the window, to look up at the sky.


It takes him several minutes to get there, because he cannot crawl or walk to it like other three-year olds, even though he is very tall for his age.  Instead, he arches his back as high into the air as he is able, often showing the small plastic feeding button that sticks out like a second navel on his stomach, until he’s almost resting on the top of his head and the small, red heels of his feet.  Then, with one great heave, he pushes himself backward with his right leg, plopping his back onto the carpet.  He repeats these motions several times, sometimes falling from his arched back before he’s able to shove, but always trying again until he’s gotten to where he wants to be.  And through the whole process, your body quakes.  You want to pick him up and move him to the window, but the therapists have told you that he needs to do this, that this will help him.


On very nice days, when the air is warm and the sun is high, he’ll sit in his chair on the front porch, his arms at his sides, and his fingers bent into half-closed hands.  His knees sit slightly out-turned and his toes are curled at the end of his tiny bare feet.  The foam supports of his wheelchair outline his head and sides, casting strange shadows across the cement.


He watches the box elder bugs, their red-striped wings flitting across the white railing.  These are a source of great joy to him, and his face lights up in a huge, open-mouthed grin, showing a tiny dimple on his right cheek.  He giggles, and the giggle is contagious, and you giggle with him, only his giggle is softer, purer, and you suddenly feel out of place in what must be a wonderful and merry world.  You wonder that God believed that this child needed you, because you feel so inadequate next to his strength of heart and force of will.  Because you cannot laugh at box elder bugs.


And then you realize that you are laughing, that he has taught you how, and you know that God gave this child to you not because of his need, but because of yours.

© 2009 Larina Warnock

Larina Warnock works for a nonprofit organization in Corvallis, Oregon  where she lives with her husband and four children.  Her role as caregiver and advocate for two children with disabilities is a primary focus of both her poetry and prose which has appeared in print, online, and in literary contests.


Copyright © 2009

Touch: The Journal of Healing

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