airbrushing reality


the concept of airbrushing the bits of our lives we don’t want came to me in Dublin. The crowd of people crossing the quays and onto the footbridge had to navigate a young guy, sitting on his haunches clearly feeling the bitter Liffey wind with a disposable cup from Burger King in his hand. The crowd passed him by, some of the more athletic actually stepped over him as if he didn’t exist.

Maybe he didn’t exist for them, for my son though, he existed, so much so that for the entire afternoon I was subjected to a soliloquy on the wastefulness of my life. How could I look at clothes that cost more than a week’s wages when he and people like him have no food, no shelter, no warmth. My son has a deep social responsibility engraved in his heart, he has watched the political dialogue with keen interest since the collapse of the property market and the imploding of the banking system. He sees through the rhetoric of the politicians, questioning why they blame each other for the mess, instead of getting out the poop-a-scoop and dealing with it.

Did the crowd airbrush this guy out of the scene? Was I also culpable because I didn’t stop? Sean stopped at every person asking for money that day and said hello, he didn’t offer them money, he offered conversation, he offered a piece of himself.

I look at the turbulent youth, hormones raging, where everything is my fault (what’s new) and see the mature human almost ready to come out. He studies morning and night, determined to get the result he desires in his exams, he has an unerring will, which up to now has been used for holding a grudge, for sulking, moaning and groaning, that is now being put to use. He is becoming the man he wants to be, he is becoming a man that will not sit by and let life happen around him. He is about to take the plunge into a new reality, a Sean that ignores disability takes responsibility for his actions, loves life.

He will never airbrush anyone out of the scene that is his life. He welcomes each day, the bullies who for years tortured him. He has a huge base of forgiveness for those who have hurt him. Even yesterday talking about a grandparent that didn’t want him, he showed immense empathy whilst knowing the truth in the statement, “Aaron’s grandfather”. I love this child-man, he drives me absolutely bananas, we argue like there is no tomorrow, we hurl insults at each other, we hug, we debate issues of the day, we are diametrically opposed in the area of soccer and football and yet it is me he brings results and commentary. I love this man-child.

The truth, oh don’t we all love the truth, for many years I regretted not airbrushing him out of my reality. The scene is my house, the place is the corridor, one minute earlier Sean had been given two carrot batons and he happily sailed off munching his booty. He was three years old. Running back to me giving the international signal (how did he know it?) for choking. I battered his back, I turned him upside down to no avail. The blood vessels on his face burst, he almost died, I almost let him, I almost didn’t intervene. But I did, I swept the pieces of carrots from the back of his mouth and he breathed, but I almost didn’t. The reasoning for the almost – the life he would have to endure, the nightmare that was my life since he was born, probably because it was raining, I like to believe my reasoning was altruistic rather than selfish but can I ever be sure?

Each tantrum, each body blow, each intransigent stubborn commitment, I regretted it often. Well until I saw a manifestation of a star on his skin, a vibrant rainbow star that signified something a lot darker than a rainbow. I became his champion then. He had endured more than his disability, stoically without revenge and our relationship began a new journey.

To now, to my son-child-man who like me has many faults but his love of life and love of people and his love of the Lord shines out shrinking the negatives, I love him

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