The Buddha of Imperfection

by Leonie Dawson on August 21, 2009

 

Hola gorgeous Goddess,

This is one of those really difficult posts to write. In writing this, I am not judging any soul for any choices they have made, or will make. Another person’s journey is theirs, and it is holy and right for them. I just wanted to share my thoughts and my journey and the way my spirit is leading me through some big choices. So I really want to preface this by saying: it’s really okay if you feel totally different from me. However your spirit leads you is just perfect.

Okay. Deep breath. Onto the story.

A few weeks ago, we had our first ante-natal appointment at the doctor’s. We were so “first time” that we didn’t even know it was called an ante-natal appointment. 

This is a correct rendition of the appointment booking:

Hi, Doctor’s clinic, this is Nathan.

Umm, hi Nathan. My name’s Leonie. I need to book an appointment.

Sure. What do you want to book for?

Well, I don’t know if it’s a special kind of appointment. I’m up the duff, and haven’t gone to see the doctor yet. Is there a special thing I need to do for this? Is there such a thing as a pregnancy appointment?

Oooh. Good question. I have no idea! Let me check.

(Checks. Comes back again).

Yes! Apparently there’s something called an ante-natal appointment. You need to come in and see the nurses first, and then the doctor.

Huh. Awesome. Ante-natal it is then!

I think we all learned something that day.

So one Wednesday afternoon, me and my hunkie went to the doctor’s. We hung out at the nurse’s station, kids bouncing around us, guys with broken legs looking a bit sorry for themselves, me trying not to hurl on all of them. A sweet nurse came and collected us, and took us to an ancient weighing station where they use weights and slides and scales to work out your weight. And I tried not to hurl as the weights slid back and forth, and found out I was already up 2kg.

She took my blood pressure, and it was something crazy high, and she looked at me with concern on her face. And I shrugged. Then down to get a urine sample, where I managed to pee all over my hand and the cup in the process. Pregnancy is for the elegant.

And she tested my pee, and let me know “it’s all fine”, which we guessed meant that I was still up the duff.

Translation service:

Some darling US goddesses have been asking what “up the duff” means. Especially when I say “up the sacred duff.” “Up the duff” is Australian slang for pregnancy, and when I say “up the sacred duff”, that’s just me being an Aussie hippy.

Then the doctor.

My doctor is sweet and calm. If she was an animal, she would be a mouse. A very friendly helper mouse. We talked about pregnancy stuff for a while. She rechecked my blood pressure, suspecting me to be one of those “high blood pressure when being watched” types, and she was right. Blood pressure perfect.

And then… she asked us The Big Question:

Have you decided yet if you want to do tests to check on birth abnormalities?

I looked at her blankly. What does that mean?

Well, we’d check if the baby had Down’s Syndrome or other birth defects.

And what if it did?

Well, you’d only really do the test if you knew you might want to terminate the pregnancy if the tests were positive.

I was speechless. I looked at Chris, tears brimming in my eyes. His eyes were wide too. We had a conversation with our eyes. 

We turned back. Chris said softly No, that won’t be happening.

I explained, tears still brimming over. My brother was born with cerebral palsy and I wouldn’t want him to be any other way. We’ll take whatever Great Spirit gives us. Whatever we are given is perfect.

Our doctor listened softly. That’s okay. I’ll make a note that you don’t get asked about those tests again.

Good. Thank you. 

Full on.

We didn’t know we’d have to make such huge decisions so early in our pregnancy.

That night, over the dinner table, we talked about it again.

Hon, did we make the right decision? Are you comfortable with it?

And in that gentle, wise way of his, he said Yes. Whatever we are given is the right thing for us. We will cross whatever bridges that arise when they come up, not try and find out where all the bridges are so we can avoid them.

It might be the perfect choice for other people, especially if they have no idea about living with disabilities, or they don’t feel able to care for them. But you do, and your family does. Your mum is a disability support worker. Your two sisters are disability support workers. We know that things can be okay no matter what.

Whatever we are given is perfect.

And I was emotional and tears broke their river banks, my heart beating strong.

And I was so glad I was with this man who really gets it, already.

It is only now I look back to the date, and realise that doctor’s appointment was exactly thirteen years to the day since my brother had made his rainbow journey onwards.

What I want to talk about

I really want to send out an impassioned plea…

for people to know and understand that children and bodies do not need to be “perfect” in order to be perfect.

My eldest brother was born with cerebral palsy (brain damage) due to birth. My mother was 19 at the time, and had never held a baby before she held my brother. She was incredibly young, had no idea about child-raising, and had a war veteran husband who had his own trauma issues to deal. 

My brother wasn’t diagnosed with a disability until he was six. My mama made it her mission to be the most supportive, nurturing, educated mother in the world. She read to him for hours each night (as she did with all of us). She helped his mind and body and soul grow and develop and bloom. She had my other brother, left her husband, and moved to a small country town. She cleaned churches and did whatever she could for her sons to have a healthy, happy life. She met my dad, moved to the farm, continued populating the universe with three more daughters, and continued on with her own self-proclaimed destiny of being the best mother she could be.

And my brother, for all his own personal challenges, was one of the greatest gifts to our family possible. He was funny, and smart, and knew how to do the practical things that the rest of us couldn’t. He was the one who would sit in the front seat of the car, directing my mum through big cities because he was the only one with a sense of direction. He’d get mixed up between the words “left” and “right” so he’d just use his hands to direct. He was the one who got out into the world and did his own thing however he liked. We often joke – he got his driver’s licence on the first go. My other three siblings took two or three attempts. Me? The apparently brainy one who graduated in the top five percent of the state? Oh yes. It took me four.

We all have our gifts and our challenges.

My brother taught us to accept people for their rich, wide and varied differences. He made our family wider, deeper and more loving. He showed us that no matter what you were given, you could do anything you wanted.

By the time he was 25, my brother had more licences to use farm equipment than anyone else in my family. He was assistant manager at an Endeavour Farm – a farm worked by people with disabilities. He had a hot, older, non-disabled girlfriend. He lived with his mates. He was North Queensland’s number one athlete in all events. He joked about wishing he was more disabled so he could enter more sporting events. He was #2 in Australia for high jump.

And he made us laugh. He would drive home on weekends to re-tile my grandmother’s kitchen for her birthday. He was rare, brave, wise, and intensely loving.

He died in a farm accident, fixing farm machinery, doing the thing he loved the most.

He was my brother, and I wouldn’t have wanted him any other way.

He had a disability, and he was perfect, just as he was. Just as we all are.

The best moments of my life

My family would go to sports competitions for disabled people – before he died, and after, to award his Commemoration Award. 

If you ever want your life changed, rocked, expanded and made a thousand times better, go to an event like that. 

If you want your heart expanded at the beauty and bravery and courage and precious spirit of some of the most amazing souls you will ever meet, meet disabled people.

My mama always likes to tell one story of watching a 50 metre running event that took three minutes to run. When one realised he was losing, he sat down on the field and cried. And everyone who got to the finish line? They turned around, walked back to him, and encouraged him, pulling him to his feet, and finished the race with him. And the crowd cheered louder than it ever had before.

They will teach you that they don’t give a shit what you look like, or what’s wrong with you – as long as you laugh, and have fun, all the better.

The best parts of those competitions?

The extreme-dance-off (thinly veiled as an awards ceremony and dinner) that night. Sure, there were awards to give out, and food to be eaten, but as soon as the music started, there was a mass evacuation to the dance floor where people boogied as much as their bodies could.

The year after my brother died, we went back again to the awards night to award his trophy. And with us was our Japanese exchange student, a sixteen year old named Shintaro, who spoke only a little English. My mama was concerned before we took him – in Japan, disabilities are often kept hidden in families, and aren’t always seen out and about in public. So using a Japanese phrase-book, she tried to communicate that we were going to be going out with 200 disabled people. She wasn’t sure how well it got translated.

That night, we ate dinner in that giant room, still grieving our brother. And the music started, and we sat around still, mopping up tears with napkins, my dad taking it in turns to scruff up our hair with his big hand, sighing as he did so. After a few moments, we realised Shintaro was missing. “Oh no!” said my sweet mama. “He must be feeling really frightened somewhere!” We tried searching outside, and the toilets, worried that Shintaro must have been uncomfortable with the combined wa-bammy of grieving and a room full of differently abled people. 

And then we found him. 

He was in the middle of the dance floor, hands up in the air, shrieking with laughter, dancing his booty off. Over the music, he yelled “These People! Are Best Dancers! Ever!”

And that’s where Shintaro spent the rest of the night. And so did we.

Embraced in the moving, pulsating beat of humans in all their splendid grief, challenges, joy, bodies, life… dancing and loving together.

My moral of the story?

Our lives don’t have to be perfect in order to be what is needed.

Some of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever met, who have changed my life, may not have been ones who passed those pregnancy tests.

But in every single way, they are our truest bodhisattvas, joy teachers and acceptance gurus.

And yes – there will be massive challenges. And huge lessons. And pain and grief. And transformation.

Just as it is with every single child born.

But it will all be worth it.

We will be deeper and richer and wiser and more beautiful because of it.

It’s just perfect, as it is.

We are given whatever is needed.

Today.

I had lunch with one of my dear friends who I adore. And she mentioned something about healthy babies. And I said - you know, I just don’t believe in bad things. Of course I would love for any child to have wonderful health. But if they don’t? It won’t be the end of our world. We will be okay. We’ll receive lessons and blessings from that too. However things happen, it’s perfect.

So that’s what I’m feeling. That no matter what “imperfections” make their way into our life – we will be better for them. We will be okay. And we will be blessed.

Sharing this with a gentle heart, and gentle spirit…

Whatever you choose for your journey is absolutely perfect. I just wanted to offer up my experience that “imperfect” is utterly perfect too.

In the interests of Comments Zen, I ask that any comments back be shared with a compassionate, non-judgemental spirit. We’re all doing the very best we can.

*big exhale*

Big love,

____