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
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.
-- Randall M. Cone
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