Monday, June 15, 2020

We Belong: Chapter 24


TW: Internalized Ableism

On Sunday, we go to church.  It’s a new one that Mom and Dad just found because Sophia’s parents go to church a lot, and they told us about it.  It’s their church.  It’s also accessible.  That means Jesse and I can get in with our wheelchairs.  Every place is supposed to be accessible, but it isn’t really.  That isn’t fair.  Mom says “someday,” and I don’t know what that means. 

It’s getting a little bit easier to go places because Jesse and I don’t have to stay in bed all the time.  I wear a dress even though I don’t like them much, because it’s church and Mom says jeans aren’t allowed in church.  Jeans are the only pants I have, and I don’t like shorts much.  So a dress it is.

It’s okay wearing one just this once, because my casts cover up my legs, and the dress covers up my scars.  It’s a good dress because it’s like jeans on top, and on the bottom it’s black with pink flowers.  Jesse wears blue sweats.  He’s allowed, because none of his nice pants will fit over his cast. 

I like church because there’s doughnuts afterward, but that’s about all. I like to sleep in, especially now, and going to church means we have to get up early.

This church is okay.  I don’t know any of the kids and there aren’t really that many.  The grown-ups are nice.  I try to sit still and be really good during the service so we can have doughnuts after.  When our pastor calls the kids to the front for children’s time, Seth goes up, but Jesse and I don’t.  No one told us nine is too old for children’s time, we just think it is. 

Children’s time is the most interesting time at church, except for singing.  I love singing.  I can’t read music, and I don’t know these songs, but I see when the notes go up and when they go down and I can follow along a little bit.  The only not-so-good part about singing is that Dad has the loudest singing voice of anybody, but not the best.  Mom says he has heart.  We don’t laugh or make fun of him (even though it is a little funny) because he’s trying his best.

After church, there’s a break, and then Sunday school.  I get a doughnut with chocolate frosting.  I wish I could drink coffee like the grown-ups.  I feel like Grandma might let me, but Mom and Dad might not think that’s a great idea, even though they drink it every day.

[Image: A chocolate frosted doughnut]

I sit close by Dad while she talks to every new person there practically, like he’s their best friend.  He loves talking to people, and lots of people like him, too.  He tells funny stories and gets really into them.  He’s telling Sophia’s mom, aunt Janice, about the experiments he did with our bacon this morning at breakfast to see which one tasted best, but that means he doesn’t see what Sophia is doing. 

What she’s doing  is sending mean looks to me and Jesse.  Jesse is all pale and sweaty.  He keeps swallowing.  I wonder if he’s sick.  That would be so gross, but I touch his arm anyway.  He jerks away like I’m a hot stove.

“Are you okay?” I ask.  We haven’t talked that much since our fight after Shane and Connor came over.  But you forget about fights when your twin is sick. 

“Fine!” he mouths, his face angry.  He has never done that before. 

That’s when it hits me: Jesse isn’t sick, and he isn’t angry either.  He’s nervous.  He wants to talk, but he’s scared to.  I want to hold his hand, but Jesse’s arms are crossed.  He’s not even eating his rainbow sprinkle doughnut.

I start getting nervous, too, so I push myself a little ways away.  I’m going to ask Mom when I’ll be old enough to drink coffee, but I have to wait my turn.  I can see inside the sanctuary.  Mom and my uncle Craig (Sophia’s dad) are talking.  Now, Sophia is chasing Seth around with a napkin and Seth has powdered sugar all over his hands and face.  I watch them, and wish I could run around, too.  But mostly I just think it’s funny to watch Sophia try to control Seth.

It’s getting close to time for Sunday school, and I really want to try some coffee, so I go closer and get ready to politely interrupt.  I am just about to say “Excuse me,” when I stop.  Mom and uncle Craig aren’t even looking at me.  There are tears in Mom’s eyes.

She drops her voice, so only uncle Craig can hear, but really, I can, too, with my super sonic hearing powers.

“I guess I just expected more.  It’s been so hard.”

Everything inside me stops.  It feels like my heart drops into my butt.  If I was standing, it would have dropped all the way to my toes.  It’s like I’m falling.  I don’t like this feeling. 

Mom notices me.  She has a Kleenex in her hand and is wiping her eyes.  “What is it, sweetheart?” she asks, like everything is fine.  She smiles. 

“Um...nothing…” I manage and turn to go to Sunday school. 

I think: Mom expected more from us after this surgery...and we disappointed her.

Now, I feel like crying.

Questions for Discussion:

Do you go somewhere to practice your faith like Lexie and Jesse (like a church, mosque or a synagogue? )  What is your favorite part?

Have you ever felt like your parent was disappointed in you, like Lexie does?  Did you feel like crying or did you have a different feeling?  What was it?


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