A privileged motherhood
Every once in a while, one comes across a person whose attitude to life offers such a breath of fresh air that one is forced to pause along life's busy journey and reflect on one's own attitudes and convictions. And sometimes, one also comes across a simple, genuine act from someone so unexpected - an act that shines through like a small candle in a big dark room; an act that urges us on to either simply stand up and applaud or in some cases inspires our own hearts and provides a turning point for our own lives.
I am certain that this happens to all of us - and it is these people and these simple acts that continue to emphasize the existence of an innate goodness in all of us. It is just that this inherent nature of goodness is often so suppressed by the pressures and tensions of our everyday lives. So strongly suppressed that we become completely out of touch with this streak of goodness in each one of us and all that we see are the more common negative expressions of our natures.
It happened to me a few days back when I had to visit the Children's Cancer ward - I have to do this visit occasionally when there is a surgical need for one of the patients. And to be truthful, I have still not got over the impact that this incident has had on my own outlook on life.
I do not need to paint the picture of a Children's Cancer ward for you - I am sure you can imagine the general mood in the ward. Bubbly, energetic children suddenly forced to lie still on a hospital bed. Not because they have been told to lie down, but just because their energies have been sapped by the chemical drugs that have been administered to them - "indifferent" drugs that in most cases cannot distinguish between the good cells in our body and the cancerous cells and so, end up killing a good quantity of the normal cells in our bodies along with the rogue cancerous cells. Children who have lost their lovely locks of hair leaving them bald - an unmistakable stamp of the deadly disease. Children who have had to forego school and the company of their friends for one, maybe even two years of treatment.
The general mood in a Cancer ward, especially in a Children's Cancer ward can be very depressing to say the least. It is one of the rounds that, even after a few years of being in this hospital, I have not really come to terms with; and it almost always starts off with a pull on the strings of my heart, which often lasts for the remainder of the day.
There is a general feeling of gloom in the ward, not only on the children, but also understandably on the faces of the parents and the caregivers who are with the children. And you can imagine my surprise one day, when as soon as I entered the ward, my eyes were drawn to a small family in one corner - presumably a father, mother and two children. They were huddled around the bed and playing some kind of game.
As I mentioned before, here was the small candle in the dark room.
You couldn't help being drawn to that bed. And so I approached that bed even though it was not the real reason for my visit to the ward.
As I went closer, I realized that the father, the mother and the elder child were all engaging the attention of the younger child, who was the patient. And as I approached the bed, I noticed something that further tightened the pull on the strings of my heart - this little child also had Down's syndrome. And my involuntary thought process went something like this - "Oh God! Wasn't the Down's syndrome itself a heavy cross for the parents to bear? Why this additional burden? Couldn't this little child have been spared at least?"
And even though I did not have to, I ended up facing the parents not really knowing how to start a conversation. But there was a divine peace about them, especially the mother which eased my discomfort quickly. How ironical, right? A doctor was the one who needed to be put at ease here! And as we began talking, the mother began sharing with me.
And this is the gist of what she said.
"Doctor, I feel truly blessed as a mother. I feel wonderfully privileged that God gave me this son. Among all the potential mothers out there, He chose me, didn't he? Isn't that a wonderful privilege? To be chosen by God? I believe God entrusted Michael to my care, because He had the confidence that I would be able to take care of him and love him from the bottom of my heart, without a tinge of disappointment or regret. God knew that only I would be able to appreciate this truly wonderful gift. Such a beautiful creation of God - and He gave him to me! I am a privileged mother!"
All I could was to reach out and hold her hands for a few seconds - and then I had to quickly turn away to hide the tears that were welling up in my eyes.
Ever since, I have begun to look at parents of such children with syndromes with a completely different perspective. Till then, even though I would go out of my way to help these parents, my actions and words were always laced with a touch of sympathy. But now when I look at them, I understand and acknowledge the fact that in reality, I am so much more inferior to them in many ways.
Also, ever since this incident, I have begun to look at these differently abled children themselves in a completely different light. That is exactly what they are - differently abled. We may name it Down's or Noonan's. They are God's wonderful creation, entirely beautiful in His eyes, but just different to the rest of us. It is just that most of us, including myself till this incident in the cancer ward, fail to see these wonderful kids also as God's perfect creations - different - yes, but incomplete or imperfect - never.
- by Preethi