|Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting this annual challenge.|
It's just a word. An old habit begun long ago in your youth. Something you say when you're frustrated or angry or annoyed. A word to describe something that doesn't make sense. You might even may use it in jest, as a joke with your friends. You didn't mean it that way. It's just a word.
Of course, I know you would never say anything to hurt me or my family. I know that you care, and it wasn't in spite. Calling you out is a risk of our friendship, and I see the surprise on your face when I do. But I need to tell you. I need you to know.
That word is a blow to me, deep down inside. A strike to my heart, it takes away my breath, leaving me off-balance and shaken. It connects with my soul, sending waves of invisible pain to my core. My mind whirls with practiced comebacks and phrases to combat its assault, and I've rehearsed them in many, many other instances like this one. But each time I'm faced with it, when it's right there before me, its power disarms all of my careful thought and planning. It hurts.
Because to me it's not just a word, it's a person. My beautiful daughter, born 16 years ago. Genetic testing confirmed her first label, Down syndrome. The word that you use came right after, written on papers and spoken in doctor's offices, stamped by professionals on her early intervention plans. While I fight the connection between word and human being, I cannot sever the link. I know that the word doesn't define her. It doesn't describe all that she is or will become. But when you say it, in that way, our world gets a bit smaller, our possibilities more limited, and it brings all of us Down.
So don't say it. Please.
|To learn more and take the pledge, go to http://r-word.org/|