(This blog tells my family's story. To see more, click "blog" at the top of this webpage.)
The annual New Year’s Eve bash with Ellen and Lizzy involved more fondue and more treats. How easily the seventeen-year-olds laughed while watching the Grinch movie. Listening to them, there was no way of knowing that one of them had a severe physical disability.
John and I toasted the New Year with gratitude and discussed how Beth’s injury had never been a tragedy—for her. We believed she had a better than average chance to contribute and be happy. My disability-related worries looped through the days. They could be condensed down to health risks and one big question:
What kind of welcome would a young quad receive from a superficial world?
I bought Beth a Harvard sweatshirt online for a Christmas gift. When she wore it to school in January, her classmates and teachers found out about her college choice, if they asked. Beth asked to attend Harvard’s admitted students weekend, even though she had already accepted. I agreed and scheduled meetings at the Harvard disability services office to figure out exactly how it would work.
I had already booked flights to Minneapolis for the US Paralympic Trials in April, so I changed our flights home from Trials to take us directly to Boston for the Harvard weekend.
Beth’s senior spring filled up our calendar with exciting trips and important events.
As the end of the high school swim season approached, Peggy adjusted the specifics of training over weeks to promote fast times at the final meets. (‘Tapering’ workouts.) The girls stopped shaving their legs. Some practices added ankle weights. One evening at the YMCA, Beth wore street clothes and shoes in the water along with the rest of the team. Then, the night before the Sectional Championship Meet, the girls shaved their legs. The boys on the team chose to shave their heads in solidarity.
All of this was new to us, as well as the excitement to follow.
Next: District Championships!
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