The occasional noise from the outside world filtering through the walls into the house distracts me a bit but apart from that the place is quiet. My husband is at work, my eldest is at a play date and my littlest is taking a nap after fighting it for some time. The howling of the wind in the cracks lures me to an afternoon slumber but I resist. I sit by my desk, taking ten minutes to reflect on the many things I’m thankful for. I love journaling. It gives me the needed time to analyze my life, from the past to the present.
Whenever the word thankful pops into my mind, I picture the main street in Swedru, a little town in Ghana. The town in which my grandmother lives and I spent part of my childhood. My favorite memory on this street is a four year old me--about the same age as my daughter right now--running barefoot on the hard asphalt, my arms wide open to the rain. My giggles color the air as my grandmother calls me back to the warm house before I catch a cold. Soaking vest and shorts didn’t bother me, I wanted to run in the pouring rain.
This scene comes to my mind over and over again, usually whenever I’m so thankful and I can’t contain my emotions.
Recently, that is how I felt when my husband came to our bedroom after the bedtime routine, smiling. This particular evening between dreamland and reality, our eldest said “My bone hand is the favorite part of my body.”
When he told me what she said, my soul went for a run on my street.
I thought about the moment that I saw my daughter for the first time and I learned that she has a limb difference. I wasn’t worried about her, but about the bullies in the future. However, from that instant I promised myself to let her be a kid, to let her see and explore things the way she wanted to, never setting a limit to her abilities. I tried my best to never push my tainted viewpoint of the world on her pristine child perspective.
She was two and half years old the first time she consciously told us that she has a limb difference. That day we went to story time at the library and when we got home she said “This is lamb and this is lion.” Initially we all thought she was saying that because the librarian gave to her stamps on her hands that morning. Later in the week, she mentioned the same thing again, this time elaborating her logic to us “My left hand is lamb because it’s small and the right hand is lion because it’s big, they help each other.”
My soul lifted and went to my street for a run. I loved the way she saw things. I’ve always been thankful to have God send my way such a pensive, clever and smart little girl. A person I love so much. She is the best teacher, the bravest and most determined little girl I know. I’m thankful for such a fighter in our lives. My world was enriched the moment I cuddled her tiny body in my arms.
My heart swells when my daughter says “My favorite part of my body is my bone hand. I like to have my friends hold it, they know it’s my favorite hand and they have to be gentle.”
My soul dances on my street to recognize the stones I set long ago coming alive. Words like if your friend is hurting your hand don’t let them hold it, the reassuring words such as I love all of you. I’m thankful for standing up for her when she was little and couldn’t respond to comments like your hand looks like potato or you can’t do this because you don’t have ten fingers. She has heard me saying “Her hand doesn’t look like anything; she was born like that. She can do anything, let her try.” That time in life when every person becomes a bit insecure in their appearance and ability may come her way, but I hope that the strong groundwork we've set will keep her fortified.
I’m thankful for the path I took when she was born four years ago; to let her be herself, to allow her to experience life and be ready if she ever comes searching for answers to help her find some.
I’m thankful for this journey, for the community that I’m a part of both online and offline. For having nice friends, my village, I can count on. I’m thankful my children are making good friends in this city they call home. I’m thankful for the many organizations that dedicate the time and money to support everyone with a difference.
Journalist: Theodora Ofosuhima