When I first got hurt, my biggest fear was returning to high school with my friends. I was so scared that things would be awkward and weird. How would they see me? Surely it would be different. I wasn’t that guy that everyone hung out with anymore. I was the disabled kid that was just trying to finish high school. I needed ramps built and doors widened and schedules altered just to manage. Obviously things would be weird and different now.
The first day I went to class was a roller coaster of emotions. I was nervous, scared, frantic, and maybe a bit….excited! Even though I was certain things would be different, I at least was back in a surrounding I knew. When we entered my first class, everyone rushed over to hug me and welcome me home. Of course, emotions got the better of me and I started crying. They thought they had hurt me when in reality, they healed me tremendously.
My parents had planned to stay all day with me to get me to my classes and lunch but from the very beginning, my friends argued over who was going to push my chair to which class and who would sit beside me to take my notes and do my work with me. They simply took over and all but told my family to go home. Once they were certain they weren’t hurting me, they even fought over who could sit in my lap to ride down the ramps!
Our small town has always been close-knit and there for each other. Of course there will always be the petty banter of a small community but when it counts, they are there. My friends only saw me as Wesley. Just because I wasn’t standing or walking, it had no bearing on our friendship. They just saw me! They showed me over and over what “true friends” really meant. The way they supported me and helped me was a huge influence on building my confidence up and they helped to teach me that my disability didn’t define me.
So, as I look back, I realize how important of a lesson that is. Everyone doesn’t have the disability I do but everyone has some issue in their life that if they let it, can and will define them. I was lucky to learn the lesson quickly….