Dear Wheels: A Letter of Thanks to My Wheelchair, by Rebecca Johnson
You help me move freely in this world and soar to the highest peaks, but why can't others see how you help me fly? Instead, they see a woman in a chair who needs help with every single thing in her life. In reality, you give me the independence to rise above that ignorance and know that I am capable and eager to live my life to the fullest.
While other parents taught their infants to walk, mine patiently taught me how to use my hand to direct you. I would win races against other children who did not see the difference between their running and my moving. My childhood friends didn't even notice you. They only saw a girl who was fun to play games and dolls with.
As a teenager, I started to hate you for you scaring the boys away. They would only pay attention to the wheels, not the girl who had a crush on them. I hated you for pushing them away, making them disgusted at how different I was from all the other girls. If only I was not tethered to you, if only I could walk then I would have a boyfriend too and the rest of my life would be easy, right? Even though I directed all my hatred at you, you still rolled me forward and never left me helpless. You took me across the stage to graduate high school and then rolled me into adulthood.
I liked you again in college. You waited patiently as I was stationary at the computer desk with my studies. You understood that we would not go anywhere in this country as a Disabled woman without an secondary education. So, we went across stage together again twice more, shocking the crowds and receiving loud cheers because we inspired them. But we didn't do it to inspire others. We did it out of necessity to survive in a world that looks only at the aid, not the person sitting in it.
We became one during those years, ignoring crushes and doing what was cool. I was never ashamed of you as people stared at us in public, prayed over us without approval, or took pity on my life. You empowered me to ignore those who didn't understand and to keep going forward in life.
Now, we live a full life. You get me to work where I counsel those who are able but discouraged by their normal struggles. Then, you get me to the classroom to teach freshmen in college. They say, "those who can't, teach," but I definitely can because of you!
After work, you bring me home to a man who loves me, wheels and all, and parents who would give their lives so my own would flourish. I love my life and it is only possible because of how you move me.
Thank you, Your loving passenger