Blowing tall grass covers the meadow. The grass is willowy and always on the move. She spies the meadow from afar and dreams of blowing through it with the wind. Parked at her window with thoughts of freedom dancing through her mind in such speed that she can see multiple scenes at once. She jumps, sprints, cartwheels, all with open arms through the meadow feeling the sun and wind whilst she welcomes the rain covering her in droplets. She opens her mouth and closes her eyes and inhales deeply worshipping the sensations. The meadow served as Carley’s temple. She prayed to the meadow, wondered to the meadow, sang to the meadow, whispered secrets to the meadow, dreamed to the meadow.
Carley was born without full length limbs. The long bone of her legs was minimized ceasing any ability to walk while her feet and hands were unharmed, her arms dramatically shortened. Medication administered during her mother’s pregnancy interrupted healthy fetal development resulting in catastrophic deformation. For years, she has peered through this window dreaming of a life that envelopes physical freedom.
A lawsuit provided her young mother with enough funds to care for Carley for her entire life. Her mother purchased a home in the country with views spanning the Currier and Ives idyllic countryside. Carley’s window to the world.
A young mother’s plight-
Rebecca, 4 months pregnant went on a trip with her boyfriend, the father of her unborn baby. A business trip for him and an excursion for Rebecca to San Francisco. A city that she had never visited before and was excited to experience. While there she contracted a flu bug and was running a high fever. She contacted the hotel doctor who provided medication for her illness. Young and naïve she trusted without questioning the doctors advise and took the medication. Once home she visited her obstetrician who was appalled to learn of the dispensed prescription. She was informed of a terrible error and the possibility of her baby having issues was better than 50 percent. Sonograms were not part of pregnancy 40 years ago so it would be some time before she knew the results of her blind faith. The father overwhelmed enough by an accidental pregnancy and now with the reality of his child baring deformities, pushed him right out of the picture. He left their lives shortly after her birth. Carley has never met her father.
Into each life some rain must fall- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
At three years old Carley learned to talk and wondered why she didn’t have the same physical attributes as her mom. Her mom valiantly explained that each person is born differently, and some babies have more to learn then others. Carley was one of those children that had to work harder to accomplish physical tasks while her intellect was her cornerstone of brilliance. What she lacked in physicality she made up for in intelligence. Her mind could do handsprings above and beyond others. But Carley wasn’t aware of others as her mother’s ego and embarrassment prevented Carley from associating with other children.
She felt as though she failed herself and her child by lacking the awareness to question the doctor. Her guilt played into a disparaging life of self-scorning. She did not want to be around friends who had healthy, typical children. Rather then embracing her child and developing a sense of humility and deeper appreciation for life, she hid her away.
Rebecca and Carley’s relationship was interdependent as Carley knew of nothing else and Rebecca didn’t have the emotional fortitude to embrace her disappointment and work through the challenges. She was young and not privy enough to life to know that great pride and the purest form of love can come from such adversity.
Rebecca decided to keep Carley in this lovely old farmhouse perched in her room and encouraged her to utilize her g-d given talents to create art with her brain. But through her isolation she lacked experiential knowledge preventing her work to go beyond what she learned from books, TV or movies. Lonely and frustrated, she ventured out one day on her own at 12 years old.
Rebecca was out shopping for supplies, when Carley ramped her way down in her wheelchair to the front door, pulled the cord and opened the front door. Another down ramp and she was out. Feeling lightheaded and a bit bewildered as a solo excursion was very foreign. “Now what?” she thought. “The meadow.”
Managing down the long driveway in her electric wheelchair she slowly took in every sight sparingly and with new eyes. No one to push her faster than she could absorb her surroundings and no instructions as to who, what and where. A deep breath and a pause just taking in trees, bugs, dirt, rocks, grass, it all looked different to her now that it was her own power bringing her to these sights. Heading straight for the meadow, she never realized how far away it was. She was getting tired and worried that perhaps she took on too much. “No”, she thought I will not be deterred. I must accomplish my visit to the place I dream about daily, under my own power.
“Carley, I’m home.” I got your favorite paints and canvases. No answer. “Carley, are you sleeping?” “Carley!!” “How come you’re not answering?”
“Carley!” Rebecca ran up the steps to see an empty room. No Carley, no wheelchair. Panic ensued and she fervently ran through the house yelling Carley’s name to no avail. She looked outside and ran down the long driveway but no Carley in sight. Trying to compose her thoughts, she ran to the phone to call for help.
Don’t rain on my parade- Robert Merrill (Funny Girl)
The sky darkening as nimbus clouds roll in. Oh no, I think I’m in over my head. A storm seems imminent, and I am well beyond familiar turf.
A truck appears heading toward her from down the road. She tries to get the driver’s attention and wave, but her arms can’t reach up too high and she’s fearful she is not going to be seen in time.
She ponders, “I better move off the road, as I’m afraid the truck will hit me, it’s moving so rapidly toward me, and I’m scared I can’t move fast enough.”
“Yes, officer, that’s correct, a wheelchair. Please hurry.” Rebecca decides she cannot wait for the police to arrive, so she sets off on her own mission. Calling Carley’s name as she goes. Looking for car tracks other than her own on the dirt road. None seem to be there. Comforting. That would indicate that no one is responsible for taking her missing child. However, she does notice wheelchair tracks on the side of the road, faintly visible. She follows the tracks. Still calling her name. She sees a truck coming and waves it down. “Have you seen a child in a wheelchair or anyone on this road?” “Sorry, Ma’am,” replied the driver. “I haven’t seen anyone today on these back roads.” Here’s my name and number, I’m searching for my 12-year-old child, she’s in a wheelchair and I just discovered her missing from my home. I live down the road in that old farmhouse. Please call me immediately if you should see her or even better, please bring her home to me”, she pleaded in a panicked tone.
It’s beautiful. I can’t believe I made it here. Managing to pull herself off the road to avoid the truck, she found another path, a shortcut that led directly to the meadow. The skies suddenly opened, and Carley was living her dream. She propelled herself out of her chair and laid strewn across the meadow hidden under the tall waving grass. Mouth open, eyes closed, just savoring the smell of the fresh rain on the meadow, feeling the waving grass rather than looking at the waving grass. Small dreams big results. If I die now, I will be satisfied. She closed her eyes as the rain fell around her and dove into a deep satiated sleep. She was woken by the sounds of people calling her name.
“I’m here”, she shouted, “In the meadow.” A rushing of footsteps coming toward her. “I’m okay, I’m okay.” Her mother pushed all the others away to embrace her daughter.
“I was so worried and frightened. I thought I lost you. That was the most terrifying feeling I have ever had.” Trembling with emotion, Rebecca sat down on the wet meadow next to Carley, holding her precious daughter, sobbing.
Maybe it’s time to go out into the world, contemplated Rebecca. Carly replied, “Mom, I would truly love to do that with you.”