Yesterday I paused outside the deli in my office building to let pass a
rather harried looking mother pushing a stroller loaded with a variety of shoulder
bags and a small little girl.
My mind was elsewhere and I never actually saw what caused it,
but halfway through this narrow doorway a wheel of the stroller caught on the
threshold and tipped the entire load forward. Caught off balance and a little
pre-occupied herself, this young lady lost her grip and the stroller pitched
forward, spilling the contents of several bags and one very frightened brown haired
Instinct took over and as any father would do, my first reaction
was to lift this baby to my shoulder, pat her on the back and console her. I
couldn't get over how light she was or how strange it was that she didn't look around
for her mother. She just cried and stared directly at the wall and never turned
her head in any direction.
Despite her small stature, Angelica, as I would later learn her
name was, nearly choked me with her grip, as she frantically held onto my shirt
and neck. Never responding to my voice as my daughter had, Angelica pressed her
face into my hands as I stroked her hair and wiped the tears from her wide green
It only took a second or two for her mother to free the
stroller from the doorway and race to my side, but Angelica would not let go of my
shoulder and hand so I told her mother to go ahead and get her things together while
I held the baby.
I had resumed my attempt at calming the baby when her mother
turned and said, "She can only hear you if you put her ear to your chest, she's
I turned my head to stare into this beautiful little girls
eyes, and saw... nothing... no response... no reaction.
This frail, frightened child was blind and deaf, her only window
to the world was through touch.
I stroked her cheek and was given a hopeful smile through her
tears, I tickled her under the chin, she giggled and placed her head on my shoulder and
sighed. My heart was broken as could only think of my own two and a-half-year old
daughter, Christina. I thought of how often she fell asleep to my wife and I
singing to her or how often I catch her looking out of the corner of her eye at me and
laughing when I wink or make a face. Would she ever know the joy and love in her
home if she couldn't see or hear it? Could I show her how much she means in my
life just by touch alone? How often had I said "I love you, Good night" without a hug
or a kiss?
We all know how important touching can be, we all know the
peace that settles into your heart after a warm hug, but could any of us convey
complex emotions like sadness, joy, sympathy or love through touch
Did this little girl know that I was a stranger, someone she
had never been near before? Did she even have a concept of different people at all?
Could she tell her mother apart from any other woman? And then all these questions
where answered in one quick second. Her mother took her from me and nuzzled
her neck and hugged her.
The look on that child's face answered all and then
Of course she could.
I stood there watching Angelica being buckled back into her seat
and tried my best not to cry in the hallway of my office. I pray that this mother
can somehow get through to her little girl over the only bridge available, and I
pray that I will never have to try.
I do know one thing though -- I'm going home tonight and