I spent part of yesterday with a very special little boy; ever since, I cannot get him out of my mind.
The child's name was Tommy. Thomas Alexander, really, but everybody called him Tommy. He was eight years old and lived in a home for children who were handicapped. He was born with brain damage that left him unable to walk. He could talk, but it took a trained ear to try to understand what he was trying to say. Yet the smile on the kid's face and his big, bright eyes said volumes; it was obvious that he was happy to leave the confines of the home for the day.
We met at Chuck E Cheese's. I was there on my lunch break from work when I heard the sound of a child chortling with glee. When I looked over towards the sound, I saw a little boy sitting in a wheelchair, along with a woman that I assumed was his mother. I went over and introduced myself; the woman told me the boy's name was Tommy and that she had brought him to lunch. When I asked her if she was the child's mother, she laughed and said, "O, my goodness, no! I'm his social worker; he lives in a home for children who have special needs, and we decided to make a day of it and go out to lunch and maybe, perhaps, to the mall."
I was shocked at how thin the boy was. His limbs resembled sticks and they thrashed with the least bit of movment; he had absolutely no control over his muscles. The social worker told me he had been born with brain damage that resulted in the lifelong condition he had: cerebral palsy. He would probably never walk on his own but he had since learned to talk, and although his speech was hard to understand, the point was this: he could still talk and communicate with others.
I asked the woman if Tommy had any family. She put her hand to my ear (so the child wouldn't hear, I suppose) and said, "No. His family abandoned him when they found out he had been born with brain damage; he's been here ever since he was well enough to get out of the hospital, but we are looking for a family to take him in."
My heart broke when I heard these words. How could a family abandon such a beautiful little boy whose sad physical condition was no fault of his own? I wish I could take him in myself, but right now that was unlikely: I worked for a high powered attourney and was hardly ever home and my own kids were teenagers, nearly grown. I know bringing Tommy home would probably disrupt all our lives, but that was one of the things sitting upon my heart.
After we ate lunch, I observed the woman playing with Tommy at one of the game areas. Tommy continued to laugh uproariously as he tried to throw a bean bag pillow into one of the holes. Of course, due to his spasticity, he couldn't control his aim, so bean bag pillows went flying with reckless abandon and Tommy laughed harder than ever. He thought it was great fun to see his babysitter go retrieving the small sized pillows. I couldn't help smiling whenever I heard Tommy laughing so joyously.
I decided then that I would pray for Tommy, that a family could be found for him, so he wouldn't have to spend out the rest of his days in the home. A home for disabled children was no place for a growing boy to flourish: he needed the stability of a family and a home he could call his very own. He deserved to have love and people caring for him.
I then decided to mention Tommy to my employer, to see if there was a way for him to get involved, so Tommy could have the family he needed. It couldn't hurt to try.
~To be continued.~