Letters and Diary Fiction posted August 3, 2014


Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
From the perspective of an intellectually disabled girl

You Don't See Me

by Janilou




I am your neighbor. We don't know each other because every time I see you in the street, you look away with your head down. I don't know why.

Are you shy?

You never see my smile. I think we could be friends if you saw my smile. You would know I am just like you.

Why are you shaking your head? You don't think I'm just like you, do you? Well, I am. Really!

I live in a house and I have friends. I have a mom and a dad who love me. I don't live with them because I'm an adult. You don't live with your mom and dad, either.

See what I mean?

I won't say I told you so. That would be rude. Sometimes I do say the wrong thing, but I'm learning. Has that ever happened to you?

 I have a special friend. We see each other when we can, but we both have jobs, so it can be hard to find time to spend together. We have such busy schedules. My friends and I go bowling, go to dances and have cookouts in summer. I love to cook. Some nights, we play cards and when we get going, it's a hoot. We go to movies, out to eat, visit museums, go to ball games, and the list goes on. I love the holidays.

Do you?

I love spending time with my family.

One of my friends doesn't get to see his family. I think they live too far away. When he's sad, I give him a hug. I'm nice like that. I have faults, just like everyone else. Sometimes I have to be reminded not everyone likes hugs. Hard to believe, because hugs make you feel better, but it's true. 

The other day, I was standing in the sunshine looking at my garden. I love to garden. You do too. I'm observant. I've seen you out in your garden and if I got the chance to talk to you, I would tell you I love your flowers, especially those purple ones. Purple is my favorite color.

Is it your favorite color?

 I think it might be yours, too, because you planted a lot of purple flowers. That's how I know we have something in common. 

Today, I was filling my bird-feeder in the front yard when you came out of your house. I waved, but you didn't see me. Two people walked by and you smiled and nodded to them. Then, a person walked down our street right past me and waved to you. You called out, "Hello!" You sounded so happy. You greeted your friend with a hug, and I have to say, you look lovely when you smile.

I know you must be a nice person. I am a nice person too. Maybe tomorrow, you will look up and see my smile. I just know we could be friends, but you never see me. I don't know why.


Recognized


I work with people who have disabilities. These disabilities might prevent them from living a "normal" life in the community, but it doesn't make them strange or scary. It saddens me when people refuse to get to know my friends from work. People shun them as though they were diseased. The only disease is in our narrow minds, our reluctance to accept those who are "different" from us. Our world would be a better place if we learned to see with our hearts. I'm not saying everyone has to be their friend, although many of them have room in their hearts for everyone. Just saying it's sad to see them ignored, or shunned by people who are more than happy to say hello to any other stranger on the street.
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