July 7, 2010
I guess the idea of going through life in pairs started with Noah’s Ark. We seem to be socially programmed from an early age to think of adults as being one-half of a couple. Even if someone is single due to divorce or widowhood, they were once part of a couple, and their identities will forever be linked. How often do we think of someone, who goes through life without at least a series of significant others, as an anomaly, a free spirit, even a curiosity?
As an adult, Lauren too, is one-half of a couple. But for Lauren, the other half of that couple is a caregiver. If Lauren was a typical twenty-four year old, no one would think it at all unusual if she turned up at a barbecue, Christmas party, or wedding, with a significant other. Yet, other than immediate family, people don’t realize that for Lauren, her significant other is a caregiver. She cannot participate in this world without one. However, we unfailingly have to ask if it is OK for Lauren to bring her caregiver along after an invitation arrives. The invitations are not addressed to Lauren and guest, but rather to her parents….and Lauren, if she is invited at all. We have actually been “disinvited” from an informal event, because we said that Lauren was bringing her caregiver.
The majority of people in the world have little or no experience with the disability community. The people who populate the social nooks and crannies of our lives just don’t stop to think of the challenges in Lauren’s life or the parameters within which she is living life as an adult. People don’t give a lot of thought to the fact that for someone like Lauren – life is more about limitations than opportunity, exclusion rather than inclusion.
And so it was with Noah, who filled his boat with a chosen few, couples all, and excluded those who did not fit his very limited criteria. But what about those doomed to be left behind? Their stories must have been a lot more interesting, more dramatic, more tragic, than those that boarded the ship. But we never hear their story. We only hear of those who were asked to walk, two by two, into their future.