As Sandra stomped down the hallway, Kitten hurried to Tammy’s side. She put her comforting, strong right arm around her. That was when the tears again gushed down Tammy’s face.
“I’m glad my sister left and gave us some privacy. I’ve been putting on a pretty face for my family, but I’m exasperated with telling them what they want to hear. You’re an example, showing me what honest talk is. You’ve taught me how to be honest with myself.”
“Thanks. I know that was hard for you, but if we don’t speak up, people—especially our own families—won’t respect us, and they won’t know how we feel.”
“Darn it, Kitten! Why can’t they understand? Why can’t they see my problem is I have a disability? I am a human being with a disability. I may drool and have a speech defect, and I may need help with everything, but does that imply that every non-disabled person who helps me also gets to control how I feel?”
“No. Of course not. Besides, we must not fear our own feelings, even if they sometimes upset other people.”
Tammy’s tears subsided, and Karen wiped her face with another tissue.
Tammy flashed her a smile. “It’s hard when even your own family says they understand, but they don’t. You try to tell them what you feel, and no one even wants to listen.”
“People who don’t have disabilities can’t comprehend what we go through daily, but you have always held your head high and been strong.”
“Thank you, Kitten. Your belief in me really helps.”
“Many people without disabilities never understand us. And how could they? We have to teach them. We have to become the teachers. Otherwise, the world will never see us as valuable human beings. That’s why we need to be there for each other, like extended family.”
“Kitten, you always express what you believe, gently and directly. This is a genuine gift.”
“Thank you, but we should think of Sandra’s feelings, too. We all need a little of the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
“I try. But she’s like a powder keg with a lit fuse…”
Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.