Yesterday I paused outside the deli in my office building to let pass a rather harried looking mother pushing a stroller loaded with a variety of shoulder bags and a small little girl.
My mind was elsewhere and I never actually saw what caused it, but halfway through this narrow doorway a wheel of the stroller caught on the threshold and tipped the entire load forward. Caught off balance and a little pre-occupied herself, this young lady lost her grip and the stroller pitched forward, spilling the contents of several bags and one very frightened brown haired child.
Instinct took over and as any father would do, my first reaction was to lift this baby to my shoulder, pat her on the back and console her. I couldn’t get over how light she was or how strange it was that she didn’t look around for her mother. She just cried and stared directly at the wall and never turned her head in any direction.
Despite her small stature, Angelica, as I would later learn her name was, nearly choked me with her grip, as she frantically held onto my shirt and neck. Never responding to my voice as my daughter had, Angelica pressed her face into my hands as I stroked her hair and wiped the tears from her wide green eyes.
It only took a second or two for her mother to free the stroller from the doorway and race to my side, but Angelica would not let go of my shoulder and hand so I told her mother to go ahead and get her things together while I held the baby.
I had resumed my attempt at calming the baby when her mother turned and said, “She can only hear you if you put her ear to your chest, she’s also deaf.”
I turned my head to stare into this beautiful little girls eyes, and saw… nothing… no response… no reaction. This frail, frightened child was blind and deaf, her only window to the world was through touch.
I stroked her cheek and was given a hopeful smile through her tears, I tickled her under the chin, she giggled and placed her head on my shoulder and sighed. My heart was broken as could only think of my own two and a-half-year old daughter, Christina. I thought of how often she fell asleep to my wife and I singing to her or how often I catch her looking out of the corner of her eye at me and laughing when I wink or make a face. Would she ever know the joy and love in her home if she couldn’t see or hear it?
Could I show her how much she means in my life just by touch alone? How often had I said “I love you, Good night” without a hug or a kiss? We all know how important touching can be, we all know the peace that settles into your heart after a warm hug, but could any of us convey complex emotions like sadness, joy, sympathy or love through touch alone?
Did this little girl know that I was a stranger, someone she had never been near before? Did she even have a concept of different people at all? Could she tell her mother apart from any other woman? And then all these questions where answered in one quick second. Her mother took her from me and nuzzled her neck and hugged her.
The look on that child’s face answered all and then some. Of course she could.
I stood there watching Angelica being buckled back into her seat and tried my best not to cry in the hallway of my office. I pray that this mother can somehow get through to her little girl over the only bridge available, and I pray that I will never have to try.
I do know one thing though — I’m going home tonight and practice.
Author unknown. If anyone has a proprietary interest in this story please authenticate and I will be happy to credit, or remove, as the circumstances dictate.
Thanks to Tidbits http://www.simplelist.com/nailprints/