What I Heard

We were sitting in circle fashion, talking about things that kids talk about. I can’t remember exactly what, but I was fully entertained by the conversation. I was at my uncle’s house, and my younger cousins, and their cousins, were converged in this small circle with me. All of a sudden, one of my cousins’ cousin said “have you seen that other kids over there? He looks like a loquito [a little crazy].” I was shocked by the comment but managed to say “that little kid that you just called ‘loquito’ is actually my youngest brother.” Immediately after that, I got up and I left. I ran. I told my mom. I cried. We both cried.
This happened far away and a long time ago, but the pain of this encounter, and many like this, I still carry today. My experience talking and counseling tells me that families experience this kind of judgment, mocking, isolation. I can still feel the same pain I felt back then and I feel the pain that other families go through, day in and day out.
I ran away that day and ran many other times before and after that, but I no longer do. In the “fight or flee” moments that ensued years after that incident, I decided to fight. It was not longer okay to flee. It is no surprise that I built my life around this fight.
Today, I counsel families of children with disabilities on how to achieve a harmonious life, not the “less than” life that many people think we have, not better than anyone else’s, not the same, but a different life, one that we have been given the honor to live. I get strength from the many experiences that surround my life, from my family, from my youngest brother, who is now an adult, and from taking a moment to breathe every day.
I am here today, writing this piece, so that I can be part of your life, so that we can share our experiences together. Let me listen to the voice in your head. Let me replace the one that is telling you to flee, or to fight in ways that are not good for you or your family.
Let’s navigate the rough seas together.

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