Today at the beach, I saw something that made me glad and grateful and pretty right with the world.
A young woman, her husband, their little boy, who was maybe three or four years old, and their little white dog on a leash were heading to the shore. To get there, they had to walk through a couple hundred yards of soft sand. As we walked behind them, I wondered if the woman would be able to manage walking in the sand because she had a very visible disability, was able to walk but slowly and very deliberately, and used a cane to stay steady.
As we passed them, I saw out of the corner of my eye that she’d fallen in the sand. Her husband was holding her hand as she tried to stand again. Having watched her walk, it seemed unlikely that she would have the strength to stand again and resume the walk.
We walked on. I thought to myself, ‘damn, this is going to be one of the things she can’t do. She’s going to have to say to her son, I can’t go there with you.’ I thought about that for a few minutes. How disabilities just cut a person off from different experiences. I can walk fine but I’m extremely hard of hearing and it’s common that there are things that I can’t experience because of that disability. It’s nothing sometimes, other times it’s withering.
So when I turned around and saw them nearing the shore, the man carrying his wife piggyback, the little boy running, and another person holding the dog’s leash, I smiled. She was coming to the water’s edge and he was bringing her. He let her down, she stood in the sand, and that was that.
Later, I told my husband what I’d seen, how her husband had carried her.
“I bet he does that a lot,” he said.
I bet he does.
Originally published in summer 2013