I recently watched “Wonder” on Amazon Prime Video. It is the story of a family whose son is born with Treacher-Collins syndrome, a condition which alters the development of the bones and tissue in the face. I know I am late to the conversation as the book was published in 2012 and the movie came out in 2018, but I have had a couple of kids and some crazy years recently. Reference: all of my posts on this blog. If you haven’t seen “Wonder” yet, I highly recommend it. I am interested to see that it has sparked a Choose Kind Campaign, and I am looking forward to reading the book.
The story resonated strongly with me on many levels, as it has with many people. I relate to Isabel and Nate, Auggie’s parents, internal struggle. They want to shelter their young son from the difficulties he will meet while navigating the world. Instead they take a leap of faith, hoping that meeting the challenge will be the best thing for him. Yep. We’ve checked that box and we’ll be returning to it many times to check it again. Auggie’s sister Via lovingly supports her brother but feels taken for granted by her parents and feels she is unseen. I worry that my focus on six year old Grasshopper’s type 1 diabetes, while necessary, will lessen my attentiveness to two year old Sunshine’s needs. Via firmly admonishes Auggie, “Not everything is about you!” It is the truth as delivered only by someone who knows you deeply and loves you absolutely can deliver it.
Nate tells his son as he enters his new school for the first time, “You are going to feel like you are all alone but you are not.” His assurance to Auggie sank deep into my consciousness like a stone into a dark still pool of water. That is a major reason I wanted to write this blog with Alese. No matter what you are going through, no matter how alone you feel in your struggles, there is someone out there who has been through something similar or is on the midst of it now. Someone whom you can look in the eye and know they “get it.” Find your support.
There are people in our lives who make things brighter. People whom we might not see on a daily basis but who, when we do see them, help out with a kind word, a cheerful smile, and genuine concern. In the midst of a cultural climate that is often frustratingly dismissive of our fellow humans, I want to take a moment to celebrate kindness.
Our family met one such person at our CVS pharmacy. Mr. Matt has been there since Grasshopper was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 21 months old. He’s given me flu shots. He chuckled through Grasshopper’s phase of fascination with the shiny, faceted walking canes displayed near the pharmacy counter. He has always treated Grasshopper and Sunshine like celebrities, speaking directly to them, coming out from behind the counter to get on their level when he has the time and asking them about their day. Mr. Matt has listened patiently to Grasshopper’s rambling stories about school, die cast cars, and stickers. He has helped us through countless insurance changes, has looked for discounts for us because insulin and diabetes supplies are crazy expensive (more on that in another post), and he has generally made my life easier.
A month or so ago when we went through the drive through window after swimming lessons (more on that in another, different post), Mr. Matt leaned out the window a bit and said that he wouldn’t be staying much longer at our CVS store. He has a great marketing internship opportunity in the athletic department at Auburn University. (War Eagle! For those outside of the Southern United States, click here to read about Auburn University traditions.) I am thrilled for Mr. Matt, but I am also sad that we won’t get to see him when we go to the pharmacy. Because of all the prescriptions we have, we are at CVS quite often! We had to switch to a different pharmacy for a few months because of yet another change in insurance. When the kids and I walked in to CVS and told the pharmacy staff we were in fact BACK in the fold, there was rejoicing as if we were the prodigal family. All of the staff and management at our CVS store have always been friendly, helpful and generous with their time.
As a way to say goodbye, Grasshopper drew a picture. He said the picture is of him crying because, “Mister Mat I will miss you.”
While “Wonder,” at the beginning, seemed like a story about a little boy with a facial difference, it revealed itself to be a larger story about how each person’s kind actions can lift up others. Mr. Matt, when I first met him, was someone who handed me my family’s prescriptions through a window. He didn’t have to do any more than that. However, during the time I have known him he has shown himself to be a person who chooses to be kind.