|By: Debra Waltman|
I took my son to the movies the other day. We went to see Fantasia 2000- that great big Disney spectacle on the Imax screen. Maybe you saw us there. We sat near the front, but off to one side, just in case Harrison forgot about the movie and remembered he was two years old.
On second thought, you probably didnít notice us. To outsiders, weíre a typical American family, mom, dad, and son, out for a Sunday outing. Nothing remarkable about it. How could you guess that, when Harrison was born, at 26 weeks, he was not much longer than the jumbo box of JujyFruits I held in one hand. The box of popcorn we shared had more heft than his entire, tiny body.
As he sat on my lap, eating popcorn with his left hand (his "good" hand- the right one used mainly to assist in holding something he canít get at with his left alone), he laughed at the screen and I felt a lump in my throat. The light from the huge screen reflected in his eyes. He has a really good sense of humor, and although he still does not really speak, I can read his thoughts in his laughter, the way he looked over at his father and me to see if we were getting the joke.
If you noticed us before, you might be marveling at this good little boy- how he sits so sweetly on our laps, munching popcorn, sipping soda through a straw. He is not tearing up and down the aisles like some children his age. You couldnít know that he has cerebral palsy and cannot walk. I think itís sort of amazing that, even at age 2, he seems to be aware of his limitations. Why cry to get down when you canít run rampant through the theatre anyway? Might as well stay here on Momís lap.
After a good while he does get restless, and Dad takes him. I get to watch them both, curly heads together-the two of them so beautiful to me I cannot imagine a life alone, sitting in a theatre without their company. We have almost gotten through the entire movie and Harrison has been less disruptive than the two ladies behind us who keep hitting me in the head with their shopping bags.
Back into Momís lap, one more time we shift. I hold this boy tight- proud that he is enjoying the movie and we feel like a normal family. This is what normal families do sometimes. They just decide to take their child to the movies and itís ok. They donít have to worry that he is getting heavier and someday they will have to research how difficult it will be to get a handicapped parking sticker for the car. They just get up and go, donít they all? But if you are watching us, you would think the same of us. You would never know.
Clutching Harrison tightly, I feel his beautiful heart beating strong in his chest. I hold him against my own and there we sit, heartbeat to heartbeat. Who would imagine that, inside of me is another precious, secret heart beating inside my womb? Another link in the strengthening chain of our family. I heard it for myself the other day in my doctorís office, struck yet again by the miraculous cycle of life. As the movie comes to a close I find myself full to the brim with popcorn and JujyFruits, and pure joy. I am so full that the tears have to leak from my eyes to reset the equilibrium.
So maybe then, you wondered why a Disney movie made me cry. But then again, I bet you never even noticed.
About the author.
Debra Waltman, mom to Harrison (26 weeker), is at home vacuuming Cheerios from the carpet, and an aspiring free-lance writer for anyone who can recognize raw talent!
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