The changing of the guards took place at 12 Noon. Sunny sat on his Daddy’s shoulders doing all he could to keep quiet. He chewed his shirt and tapped the top of his fathers shoulders. He was regulating himself the best way he could.
We left the area where he happily and innocently waved at the stone faced guard and with a big smile said “Thank you.”
We boarded the trolley which took us around the 600 plus acres of Arlington cemetery found in the heart of Washington DC.
Passengers were loading and sitting on the trolley in anticipation of the next stop.
Our family sat in the front carriage where a bar protected us from falling out. Sunny started to drum a beat on the bar.
People behind murmured and chatted when a lady loudly and rudely told Lawson to “Shoosh.”
I turned defensively because of her tone and said that he is Intellectually Disabled. She raised her eye brows and without any tolerance started to spit words at me. “Keep him quiet. We Americans respect this place” indicating that us Australians were disrespecting her country. Her tone insulting and filled with accusation as her eyes glared. I was speechless but filled with fury. Her friend sitting by her side spoke four audacious words that got me wild.
“He doesn’t belong here.”
Now my mammas heart was outraged.
The lady directly behind me looked into my eyes with compassion. She could see the disbelief on my face.
The Pastor I call Husband coached me to a state of silence but I was ready to fight, protect and shed light on ignorance.
Weren’t we surrounded by thousands of graves because of conflict? Yet a zero tolerance attitude for my son who doesn’t fit the normal mould was starting to spark another feud.
I wish I could tell you that I acted with Godliness and grace during our dialogue but the truth is…I didn’t. I haven’t shaken with anger in many many years.
“Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.”
Our trolley pulled up to the next stop where my heart began to beat faster. I wanted to represent justice but wisdom had its way and I remained onboard and allow her to get off. We continued our journey where I exited the cemetery with sadness.
My stomach was in knots and I felt myself overwhelmed by being around people. These past few days I have had countless people look at Sunny with disapproving glances and it kills me every time.
I was able to steal a few moments at lunch with The Pastor I call Husband. His eyes pricked with tears as he spoke. People who witnessed the situation apologised on behalf of the woman and poured compassion on our boy. The condemnation was lifted and replaced with goodness. The Pastor was truly grateful that strangers would be so thoughtful.
“Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24
He also spoke a sentence that will see me through life…
“Our job as Sunny’s parents isn’t to make him normal but happy.”
Our day unfolded and there I stood in a beautiful cathedral made of lime stone and stained glass windows. I began to reflect on what had previously happened. A candle was burning bright, flickering a glow which captivated. I felt tears well as I allowed my heart to soften.
“God” I heard myself say “Why is every day a battle? A battle parenting a child like Sunny? A battle to be Godly and represent you in all I do? I fail constantly.”
At that very moment a group who had gathered nearby began to recite the Lord’s Prayer. I closed my eyes allowing the words to wash over me. I silently joined the prayer with brothers and sister who remain nameless.
I sought forgiveness for the role I played and asked for help to forgive a woman who I will never see again.
The lesson I’ve learnt is to always keep a short account of un-forgiveness as it will poison your soul if you don’t.