Memoir of a Melody
There could be no more perfect name for a child who loves
music like Melody does. She also brightens at the sound of
her momma's voice, the soothing murmurs of the teacher
who adores her, and wind chimes. But she cannot speak or see, and
some days can barely breathe without her treatments for cystic fibrosis.
Maryann is Melody's teacher, and has taught special-ed for twenty-five
years. Maryann truly loves her job and her students.
She checks on them over the summer months, visits them when they're
hospitalized, and attends their funerals when their young lives end and
their too-small coffins are lowered into the hostile ground. Maryann
is THE person you'd choose for a teacher if you had a handicapped or
severely disabled child. She's patient, kind, empathetic, and celebrates
the smallest of accomplishments with her students.
Many of the kids in her classroom will never walk, talk or feed
themselves. Some will live to be perhaps fifteen years old with good
medical care but they'll still wear diapers and live in their own worlds.
Many are autistic; others have cerebral palsy or chromosomal anomalies.
They are all euphemistically and optimistically labeled 'developmentally
delayed,' but the reality is that they will never catch up to their peers.
Most won't write their names, learn to add and subtract, or run to
chase a ball or dance; their limbs and senses don't work in sync. Th ey
surely don't fit any paradigm of 'normal.' They'll all be 'left behind,'
scholastically and politically. But they are people worthy of dignity, all
the same. And Maryann gives them that in spades.
There is no test to measure Melody's newfound ability to tap her
finger in time to music. Th is development was cause for celebration in
Maryann's class, just as James' not hitting or biting during quiet time
was a triumph, yet Maryann cherishes these milestones.
When learning of this precious child's ability to hear and appreciate
sound, I got out a dragonfly wind chime I'd been saving for the perfect
recipient. You see, I have chimes all around my cabin, swaying musically
in trees, porches, windows and even my rose garden.They're a lyrical reminder
of my faith. Without the wind, they're pretty but silent. I can't see the wind,
but I can hear and see its results.
Without the The Divine living in me, I'm diminished, but with It swaying me,
I am made whole, useful, beautiful. But this particular wind chime with its
silvery dragonflies had never quite fit anywhere.
I knew then, this was what I'd kept it for. Maryann put it on Melody's wheelchair
the next day, so that her music would always be with her.
I once asked Maryann why she goes to work every day, to a depressing
job where she'll never be nominated for 'Teacher of the Year,' and can't
point to standardized test scores as proof of her students' progress.
Maryann replied to my query thoughtfully. I believe, she began softly,
that God gave me the ability to see beyond the external, and to find that
one special thing inside a child, something that he or she can react positively
to. I believe that each living being is a creature of God, each having purpose
and talent. God gave me the gift of finding that and using it to make these
children as happy as can be for their short time on this earth. I also think
these children with severe disabilities are sent here to teach us. I'm grateful
for the insight to learn from these earthly angels.
I believe it is people like Melody and Maryann who ? perhaps
better than the rest of us ? hear so clearly the voice of God.
And now Maryann needs help. Plz pass on and send cyber-hugs/encouragement/prayers to:
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