I wrote this piece in the winter 2009, sometime in February when we hope and pray that winter will end. Winter is when Ronan seems to come down with more sicknesses and when he uses up lots of energy to just be.
Winter is also when it will sometimes get dark and gloomy outside. Some days, dark and gloomy matches my mood and describes my thoughts. Thankfully, writing things out helps me push through some tough days. That and knowing that other parents are ready to pitch in and help me gives me comfort. Providing comfort and offering hope can make all the difference.
Here is a revised version of that piece that I wrote back in 2009.
Be the Difference
I watch reality shows to escape my present pain. Most Sunday nights I’m curled up on the couch at 8pm ready to cry like a baby. The Extreme Home Makeover Team on ABC dazzles weekly again and again with the generous time, talents and gifts bestowed upon a family with far more on their plate than I have. Some nights I try not to watch the show since I don’t always feel like I want to cry. I have usually been emotional hung up on a wall during the week and may have already had a good cry. At that point, I have gotten through a busy weekend of watching Ronan like a hawk. That's also when I will sometimes get those Monday morning blues even though we're only half-way through Sunday. Why would I want to restart the emotional faucet by watching a show that is sure to tap the tears? I do anyway and by 8:50 have bawled like a baby. The last Makeover show I watched was no different. I only wish that I had a box of Kleenex with me on the couch.
A well-deserving family with twin boys with special needs was on the receiving end of getting their dream home. They now had special equipment to care for their sons affected with physical and neurological delays. The family rested on a fun vacation while the entire town where they lived worked seven days straight building a new and safe home. Lately on the program, not just a family gets the help they need, but someone in the community is surprised with a mini-makeover. I well up much earlier in the show nowadays.
This week, an owner of a coffee shack that was in much need of repair was given what he thought was an impossible dream. Sam, who was born with cerebral palsy, was now the owner of a brand new store Not only that, but "More Than Coffee" is also handicapped-accessible.
Sam looked ‘normal’ during his interviews, but until the camera panned over all of him, you could see that he too had physical disabilities. I held up emotionally most of the show and thought I may not *need* to cry that night. When Sam was thanking the design team while being hugged by the family of the special needs children though, I lost it.
That design team did a fantastic job of sending their message of believing when they helped Sam with his run-down building. They opened up more doors for him, literally, and allowed Sam to open doors for others. Sam’s dream was to be able to hire staff with disabilities, but his old coffee shack was structurally unable to make that dream come true. With the help of the Extreme Home Makeover Team, Sam now could. He was truly was overcome with his emotions and said, “Be the difference you want to be or be the difference you want to see.”
One small dream made a difference for this man, his employees and their futures.
Sam was paying it forward like other people had done for him. When he emigrated from his home country with his father to find better health care, Sam’s father knew that from the start that they were going to be in for a long haul. Sam found success though and wanted that for others as well. It's no different than what a lot of parents of vaccine injured children that I know want for their families: to be heard. To find appropriate treatment. To be given a chance. To be respected. To be given hope.
I'm inspired by Sam. I'd like to think that in what I do and say that I am making a small difference. And not just for me and for Ronan, but for other parents and for their children too. Things may be tough some days, but I can always find something positive to hold onto. I can always offer to help someone else. I can always try to make a difference in someone else's life too.
Be the difference. I know you are all already fighting.
Be the difference. I know you try to stay positive.
Be the difference. I know you feel you are at the end of an unraveling rope.
Be the difference. I know you want this all to go away.
Be the difference. I know you won’t quit.
Be the difference. I know you won’t stop asking questions.
Be the difference. I know you won’t stop demanding things to be righted.
Be the difference. I know you won’t get off your soapbox about autism and vaccines.
Be the difference. I know you see the future can be brighter.
Be the difference. I know you will make changes for success.
Be the difference. I know you hope.
Be the difference. I know you dream.
Be the difference. I know you can.
Be the difference you want to be, or be the difference you want to see.
Take action. Be brave. Fight hard. Fight harder. Be loud. Be demanding. Be helpful. Be hopeful. Be there. Be the difference. And do it today.