TO TABLE OF CONTENTS
Disabled: To make useless.
I am not disabled. I am fighting a bizarre, cyclical,
invisible illness, yes. Every day, every minute, is a struggle, yes. But
I am able to do things no one else in this world can.
I am able to show incomparable love to a five-year-old boy,
and he in turn is able to show his very own take on beauty and magic to those in
his life. I enchant him with stories about ladybugs and fairy castles and what
makes a child special. I entertain him by coloring magic houses with stained
glass windows, towers, purple paint and a garden containing trees and ponds,
with the occasional turtle and cat thrown in for good measure.
I am able to create comfort and splendor on a limited budget,
nesting in my bedroom with paper lanterns, purple holiday lights and silk
flowers, the flow of my water fountain providing a soothing background for my
I am able to allow creative vision to flow through my fingers
into cards, small gifts and symbols of love to those with whom I am inextricably
linked. Not a season goes by where I don’t find a new inspiration for creating
new tokens of my esteem.
I am able to make short trips to the grocery store and choose
the freshest produce available. I chop and season and cook bits and pieces until
a whole forms, pungent and nourishing, warming my parents’ kitchen — feeding my
body with Earth’s gifts and my soul with the knowledge that I am independent
enough to do so.
I am able to feel a divine presence in my life; in the people
I love, the trees bared in winter, the earth frozen yet fertile beneath my feet,
the very air I breathe. Lots of days I even feel hope all around me, aided, I am
sure, by the gentle nudging of that divine spirit.
I affirm my illness, I own my illness, I may well be
frustrated and depressed by it — but I am not my illness. I assert,
uncategorically, that I am not disabled. I am differently abled. No more and no
less worthy than any stranger. The gifts we have been given and give to others
are of the soul, not of the body. Disability has nothing to do with our bodies.
You disable a bomb, a car, a criminal, by taking away power. Our power lies not
in the flesh but in the spirit. I am — and you are — limitlessly abled.
Sara Zeno lives in Pennsylvania.