Still confused. Yesterday’s birthday was like no other. Between sadness and absolute bliss to have Pádraig around, with us, in our apartment, just having completed the beginning of an incredible journey. How will we look back at yesterday in a year’s time?
Today we went to IRMA, a fair taking place in Hamburg with all sorts of rehab articles, from cars, to lifters, to wheelchairs, to therapy dogs. It wasn’t big, but because of that we managed to see everything that was there, although we only had an afternoon. It’s like learning how to live a new life, every detail of it. Pádraig came with us and we managed to try and check out a few things, like getting more tips on how to adjust his wheelchair.
Several people on the train back from Lourdes told me that Joe wanted to talk to me. I found him in the kitchen compartment where he spent a lot of time during this long journey because there were always people. It never got boring there. So I sat down beside him and we started with some small talk. Until he asked me whether he could tell me something. Whether he could be straight and honest. Could he tell me something even if it would hurt me. Because he felt that I needed to know.
You know, he said then, you know, Pádraig’s life will be so much harder then mine has ever been. And that is because he got to know the other life. He knows what it is like not to be sick, what it is like to be independent. And you need to know this. I don’t want to hurt you. But you need to know.
Joe was born with several syndromes and has been in a wheelchair all his life. He cannot walk and cannot use his hands. He lives in an institution and works 8 hours a day in a “Werkstatt”. He coughs a lot and at times I found it difficult to understand what he was saying. He drinks through a straw from a glass you hold up to him. His secret is that he likes beer and “Kümmerling”. He drinks that through a straw too, he says. In your life you could not find a kinder person.
I am still thinking about how important it was for Joe to tell me what he told me. Asking several people to find me and get me to sit beside him for what he very well know would most likely move me to tears. There was he in his wheelchair, pretty helpless from the day he was born, thinking about this young man he had met for the first time on this journey, who had lived a ‘normal’ life for 23 years, had been able to do, more or less, what he wanted to do, to live his life the way he wanted to live it. And now was wheelchair bound, starting up a new life, knowing and remembering what ‘the life of others’ was like. And he felt that this must be so much harder and so much more difficult. And that I should know.
Joe also told me that, eventually, Pádraig needed to find his own life, among his own people.
Joe was right. What he was telling me was hard. But, as Joe hasn’t given up, Pádraig hasn’t either. Nor have we. And we won’t, ever. Pádraig will live his new life, with the help and love of his family and friends, getting better every day. As he does, he will sailing down the stream with the other dreamboaters.
Singing — Dancing — Crying — Laughing