I work with handicapped people, young people. Some of them are still kids, some of them are mid-teens, some are young adults. None of them younger than 13, none of them older than 18. Some only have learning disabilities, some are in a wheelchair, some are mentally in a far away land that a healthy, “normal” person can never follow them to.
A fact that probably a small part deep down inside me knew already is that some of them die quite young. But I never let it become a truth. You see, I only work with them for a few days because what we do is an orientation program where these young people can find out what they are capable of doing in terms of mechanical skills to help them find a job that fits their possibilities and needs. So, I possibly always just thought doing this program with them includes some secret requirement for them to have the same life span the average person has. Which is stupid, of course.
Then, a few days ago, a colleague who takes care of those kids after we are done with them, told me that she went through the folders with the pictures that we take of the kids for several reasons. She wanted to delete all the old photos that we didn’t need anymore. And, while looking at the pictures, she realised that she knows of an awful lot who aren’t even alive anymore. Oblivious me! I was shell-shocked for a moment, and then just burbled a “What? How do you mean?” And my colleague said that some of them had heart diseases and couldn’t get a transplant in time. Some of them just don’t usually get older than 20 because of their special kind of disability. Some of them had diabetes and died of the side effects etc etc.
And I thought to myself what great kids we have the honour to work with. They give us 10 days of their lives. And it made we wanting to try even harder to give them a good experience that will result in a gentle, good memory. Because we bring our selves into every situation, and every encounter steals a tiny bit of our soul and heart. So I’ll try and leave the good bits behind for them to find.
This is for all of you and everybody else, and it’s great even though the first line is missing: “This for the fat girls!” *whoop whoop*