To My Parents, Who Taught Me That Disability Does Not Define Me

Dear Mom and Dad,

I am tempted to start this letter by apologizing, but I know my disability was not my fault. I know God built me for this life, but I cannot imagine how stressful my entrance into the world must have been.

I can imagine that me being so small and being able to fit in the palm of your hand was nothing short of mesmerizing. The breathing tubes and other instruments sustaining my tiny life must have been a bit tragic and overwhelming.

The extra responsibility must have been utterly exhausting and at times, and must have left you feeling defeated. I truly cannot imagine the magnitude of my birth story.

Yet here I am. The journey has not been easy for me at all. The hard times were heavy and will always leave a scar on my heart. Since my discrimination and challenges were endured so early in life, I cannot imagine how you both felt knowing I had to deal and sacrifice my burdens at such a young and ripe age, one where I should have been blossoming and learning about life.

I am grateful for everything you did to try and dissolve that situation, even though it did not end with the consequences we had all hoped for. In many ways, now, though, I am thankful for my first trying situation because it definitely prepared me for what was in store for me in the times to come.

High school was the next huge roadblock for me. It felt so weird and awkward being the only person who was forced to use a wheelchair. It felt even more burdensome having to rely on people to do something as simple as using the bathroom when I knew from the beginning that they did not want to be bothered with me. It stung like the world’s biggest wasp. It left me feeling empty and worthless. I hid it from you both because I was scared and not sure how to feel. Depression had then robbed me of everything happy and the things I held dear.

I cannot tell you how sorry I am now for keeping it from you. However, that is just what depressed people do because it hurts so badly to face the brutal truth. You both raised me on a strong foundation, though, and I knew that I would be OK if I could come out of this darkness and meet the light again.

You taught me to grab life by the horns and that is exactly what I did. Once I was given the opportunity to mature and attend college, I grew up and began loving life. Thank you for raising me to live as independently as possible, because without that mantra. I would have never survived to make it to college. Without your faith in me, I would have never studied and worked my way to graduating with honors, which also helped prove all of my doubters wrong. Thank you for pushing me to get things done in my life despite my many challenges.

You taught me to chase my dreams and never give up. Now here I sit at my computer expressing my dedication to you both. I am able to express myself and help others with disabilities with their lives with my words because you taught me to hold on. To grab life by the wings and fly away with it. I could never ever thank you guys enough for raising me to be the strong and confident person I am today. It means the absolute world to me and more!

I am introspective, unique, laid back, and fun.

Keep up with Karla on Instagram