My awareness raising happened at a podium tonight. I was honored to be at the Scribd Author Series event in San Francisco with my fabulous writing group the Write On Mamas, reading an excerpt of my essay about skiing with Oscar. (The full essay, "Slide Show", appears in our newly published anthology Mamas Write.)
As I practiced this afternoon, reading my words over and over, and trying to coax my voice to convey the right amount of excitement at the proud parts, gravity in the scary parts, and levity at the one almost-funny part, I felt really connected to and protective of Oscar. In my allotted four minutes I wanted convey to the audience why a seemingly disastrous afternoon of skiing was actually one of my proudest moments. I wanted them to get it.
Six mediocre read-throughs later I found myself hunting around the house for a picture of Oscar to take with me, to remind myself why I am reading a deeply personal essay to a room of strangers. Again.
I am doing this -- this writing thing, this reading thing -- so that other parents will feel less alone when their baby is diagnosed. So that other parents will know, that even though raising a child with special needs is challenging, there will be joy and celebration again. So that more people know about this crazy syndrome.
Here's that photo of Oscar. I kept it tucked into my book, and peeked at it just before I stood to read.