It seems I may have struck a nerve with some by posting one father’s blog entry on Facebook. I came across a post by a father who said that he hated his child having a disability and wished there was a cure. This began a lively, unanticipated discussion, and in the past few days, I’ve been lead to ponder the question of a cure. If there was a cure for your child or family member’s disability, would you want it? I have talked with several parents about this, because the answer is not as straightforward as it seems. My son’s disability is, for example, physical. Cerebral palsy has caused him to struggle with physical challenges, and accommodations have had to be made to help him stay mobile and to make things accessible for him. While he does face problems in some areas, others are well within his abilities. Would he, however be the same person he is today without having gone through all of these struggles? The surgeries, the therapy, the people he’s met, and the experiences that have shaped his life, starting from birth and continuing to the present day, have had an effect on who he is. I am not saying that children who have not had similar struggles are not capable of having the same character traits. At the same time, I don’t know if you can teach the particular lessons Kyle has learned. Nevertheless, as his dad, I would not wish those struggles on him. I have dreamed, not of a cure that would alter him as a person, but one that would shelter him from the pain of a harder life. In other words, I want the man I know and love without dealing with the heartache of a disability. But this seems like an impossible compromise. To get the character without the struggle is unachievable; it is my own scares and trials that have made me who I am. And yet I cry out sometimes that life isn’t fair, and ask God why it isn’t.
I put the question to a friend who is in a different situation. She is a mom who recognizes that her daughter is precious to her because of who she is; at the same time her personality is greatly affected by her disability. While some special needs, if removed, would likely not alter who that person is, others are so fundamentally a part of them that it would seem a cure would completely alter their entire identity. Faced with this problem, how do we choose? Would we accept a cure or not?
I struggle with both answers to this question. I can understand the other father’s post, as well as the responses of my friends. It is difficult to give an answer based solely on how things might change, and the appeal of an easier life can seem shallow. It is natural, though, to want to spare our children pain and struggles. In the end both sides seem to miss a part of the larger picture. A perfect solution would be a person with limitless abilities who just happens to be who they really are character and all. Reality, however, says that this isn’t going to happen. I don’t see a real solution, one that gives us everything we want and also everything we need. So, I feel like I will live my life somewhere in the middle, dealing with the pain and grief of struggles, yet also understanding that they make my loved one and myself who we are.