First let me say I am so thankful that Chaz and I are very confident people. We can get knocked down and we will get back up. But as we assimilate our little family back into the big wide world it is always interesting to see how people react.
Yesterday we met up with my friend from high school, Galen. Unfortunately he and Demetria got a crash course into our reality. First they got to observe how people look at us as we walk by. There's the pity stares, the frowns and my favorite the pity smiles. You can feel all the stares as you walk by. Chaz and I have gotten used to this. But for Galen and Demetria, this is a little new to them. You know what I'm talking about. You know that feeling you have when you know someone is looking at you. Well when we're out and about that is constant, because people are always staring. The girls even noticed it at the beginning but we've taught them to just move on and now it is a part of our new normal.
Second they got to experience how we have to reroute to get almost anywhere. Luckily almost every place we go has handicap accessible entrances and exits, but they are not always convenient and sometimes you have to go on a scavenger hunt to find them. Then you have to constantly go hunting for the elevators because stairs and escalators are not an option. But thank goodness other people have blazed that trail for us so the elevators are there for Chaz's use.
Third they got to witness me panic. Chaz is very independent and I am so thankful for that. But the girls are still so young and they know they have to stay with Mommy or Daddy. But when Daddy goes flying off (I am referring to the speed in which he takes off in his wheel chair sometimes) and Mommy can't move that fast they get confused. Sometimes I just can't handle it. The three people I love the most and have to protect cannot go in three different directions when we are in a crowded, unknown area. So Galen and Demetria got to witness me freak out a little. Imagine this. We are in this gigantic museum, Chaz is going in lightning speed one way and the girls are going two different ways and there are hundreds of people coming through all at the same time. See, that freak out is totally justified huh?! And besides I didn't yell and cause a scene, but communication had to be established. I needed to keep them together for my own sanity.
The fourth part occurred when Chaz walked out of the bathroom and fell. His prosthetic knees just gave out. So Galen and Demetria got to watch a big group of people stand there and stare and wonder what is the right thing to do. When he fell, silence fell all around us too. Everyone stopped to watch. All I could hear was the sounds of our voices talking to Chaz and communicating what Chaz needed for us to do to help him. The chatter around us came to a complete stop. Then once we got Chaz up and back to his chair people went back to talking. Yes it was awkward. But this is not mine and Chaz's first rodeo, so we just ignore it.
Fifth they got to witness the curiosity and the innocence of the children who walked by. In Central Park one child pointed and laughed at Chaz. Chaz looked at the little girl and said, "Yeah my legs look funny huh?" She turned away and buried her head into her mother. The family all spoke in a foreign language so we couldn't understand them. But Chaz always handles those moments with such grace and style.
Lastly and most importantly my old friends (and now Chaz's new friends) got to witness the resiliency of a wounded warrior family. They got to see how we get up and move on with our lives and how we have a lot of fun while doing it. But yesterday provided them a front row seat to our new normal. We had a great day, despite our little hiccups. For those social anthropologists out there, studying wounded warrior families could make quite an interesting book!