Yesterday I went to see my brother’s play. All of the actors were adults with disabilities, and it was great. I didn’t always understand what was going on in a scene, or what all the actors were saying through speech impediments or nerves, but I loved it. It was simple with half zipped costumes and crumpled scripts in hand. You could feel the nerves and the pride and the thrill, in a tangible way, like these primal emotions were forming an island, an oasis away from every day craziness. It was nine o’clock on a Tuesday morning, for heaven’s sake. The performance was almost like a secret that only fifty people knew. We were like a basement club, wanting to get another hit of this ridiculously addictive joy.
I almost didn’t go, it seemed like a long drive, early in the morning, for a short play, but I knew how much it would mean to him, so I went as if I was doing him a favor. Turns out he was the one doing me a favor, reminding me how simple life really is, and how complicated I make it with my worry and hurry. Slow down, sit back, enjoy the show.
He is such a good uncle, we call him “FUNcle” Don. He took Audrey around to everyone, introducing her “this is my niece!” He is so proud. I am so proud.
One of the best moments of my life was sitting next to my brother when we were both seven, on my parent’s country blue and mauve bedspread, telling him about salvation, and God, and Jesus, and Heaven, and praying with him, and knowing then, and knowing now, that he knows Jesus and loves him as best he can.
Yesterday, I sat next to my brother again, in a riverside park under oak shade, and he shared that he had been “good” lately, that he hadn’t had a “behavior” in a while. I asked him why he thought he had been able to do that, he answered immediately with great confidence, “I’ve been praying about it!” Like, obviously. Of course. God loves the earnest prayers of those who trust him. God loves the least of these.
I have had the tremendous privilege of spending six years working with adults who have disabilities, and I am a wiser and better and more generous person because of it. If you do not have contact with this group of individuals, if you look away when you see somebody who isn’t the same as you in a store, or a restaurant instead of smiling or saying hello, you are the one missing out. I do not want to miss out on a single lesson I could learn.
The fact that so many are choosing to terminate these lives before they are born is a tremendous loss. No, it isn’t always easy. Choosing to have a child with a disability means choosing to give even more of yourself than you can imagine. Having a brother with physical and emotional disabilities taught my parents, and even us kids, lessons that we never wanted to learn. Some of the most raw and painful memories of my childhood include Donald, yet the brightest ones include him as well.
It includes sacrifice, it isn’t all cute, like maybe some pro-life marketing makes it seem. It is gritty and heart-wrenching and causes you to sacrifice your self again and again and again. But, that is where joy comes from, like a cold navy blue stream of water under a dusty and cracked surface, deep love and intention and self-sacrifice.
Losing these lives is like intentionally filtering joy out of our society, eliminating the reminders that we so often need: slowdown, sit back, enjoy the show.