Friday, June 12, 2009

In Ten Days

It is incredible what 10 days' time can teach you when you spend it entirely with someone who has a disability. I have learned more in the past two weeks than I ever thought I would.

When I signed up to work this summer at Camp Kostopulus, I really had no idea what I was getting in to.
I didn't know that I would literally be so drained both physically and emotionally that I wanted to give up. I didn't know I would be in charge of setting up equipment at night for someone whose life depended on it. I didn't know I would be solely responsible for the personal care and attention of another human being. I didn't know my back would ache from the physical labor of transfering a 24-year old man from his chair to his bed to the toilet and back again every day for 5 days. I didn't know my patience would be tried by an 18-year old boy whose appetite is uncontrollable and whose mind's only focus is the attainment of food. I didn't know I would stay up to the wee hours of the night stroking a 35-year old woman's hair until she fell back to sleep and calming an aging woman whose nightmares overwhelmed her. I didn't know I would laugh so hard on a bathroom floor with a girl whose body is crippled by cerebral palsy and who found it humorous that I really had no idea what I was doing as I tried to shift and move her body in order to change her diaper. I didn't know I would be so frightened by a camper who sweat through his clothes in the nightand looked like he was speaking parseltongue. I didn't know the triumph I would see in a young girl's eyes as she mastered a challenging element on the high ropes course or worked up the courage to ride on the back of a horse. I had no idea that my heart would become so intertwined in the lives of so many people who I will probably never see again. I had no idea I would be so completely and utterly happy.

In ten days, I have learned... to love my body and celebrate the ability I have to move and walk and dance, to never take for granted the blessing it is to shower yourself and brush your own teeth and wipe your own bum, to recognize the miracle it is to leap and run and get up when you want to, to remember the importance of loving others for who they are on the inside, to share, to play, to pay attention to little every day miracles. When you break down all the complications of a developed mind and learn to think on the most basic level, there are a million reasons in life to smile.


Kylie said...

Oh Summer...this made me cry. You are wonderful. I hope you continue to have good experience at camp. I miss you a lot! Love you!

Stefanie said...

thanks for this post summer. I think we all need to be reminded how blessed we really are. it gave me goosebumps reading this and helped me remember how many reasons I do have to smile. So... thanks! :) i hope you continue to have life changing experiences and keep having fun. I can't wait to see you in August! love you!

Summer said...

I miss you guys too! I love you.