I felt raw yesterday, physically and emotionally. I went back for my post-op appointment which included having my obturator adjusted which was uncomfortable but it went better than I anticipated, thankfully.
Although it was manageable I was still left feeling raw, not just physically but emotionally.
Prior to my appointment yesterday, I had an interaction with someone that left me realizing that my life has changed.
As Stephen and I sat down to wait for our appointment, I smiled at the person near us, as I would have two weeks ago without my obturator, and they smiled back. Then I followed it with "how are you doing today?"
When I saw the blank stared response I received, and how this person's eyes quickly looked away from me, avoiding interacting with me, it took me a moment to realize that I had forgotten that I sound different these days (think of a mix between Charlie Brown's teacher and the person taking your order at a fast food drive thru).
I realized that my voice made this person uncomfortable and rather than engaging in a conversation with me, they chose to avoid me.
My heart broke.
Not for me so much -although it was disheartening for a moment realizing that I was being judged for my voice. How quickly the smile that they had worn on their face disappeared. For me, my voice is temporary as I adjust to my new mouth and in time I hope to speak clearly again.
What I was heart broken about was how many people, children and adults, walk through life every day with a visible/audible deformity and others judge them and pretend that they don't even exist.
I got a taste of it yesterday and what it did for me was wake me up to be sure I engage with people - no matter what they look like or sound like- because they are human beings and deserve to be recognized.
Imagine how many beautiful souls are passed by simply because people lack knowledge and understanding and therefore label someone as different and unworthy of your time.
So I leave you with this thought...
Next time you see someone who may look different or talk different, etc., I ask that you...
Pause. Breathe. Pray.
Take a moment to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, how would I like someone treating me if that was me?
My hope is that all of us would choose to interact with that person and treat them with kindness, dignity and respect and let them know they are seen and heard.
Let us choose to love one another, not judge.
With love and hope,