Photo: Eva-Elizabeth Chisholm and Eva Hernandez share a name, a home, and the blessing of looking younger than they really are.
I’m forty-three, not five
A woman, not a child
I’ll laugh, I’ll play, and I’m going to wear these ribbons in my hair
Treat me like your peer, not with your pity
I’m seventy-seven years young, and I’ve lived more life than I can always remember
It’s scary, this reality that every day takes me another step further from youth and closer to heaven
But perhaps my youth is more a state of mind, an approach of the heart
Age is just a number, and though it’s scary, I’m not entirely afraid
I’m somewhere in the middle, and a little scared to find
That things I thought were secret are harder now to hide
Others said I’m broken and now I find myself asking
Am I okay? Am I okay?
My hello may come as a wave, not as a word
I’m a quiet presence that you might miss if you don’t take time to step back and just be with me
I don’t ask what the bird is saying because I think you know the answer
I ask because I want you to slow down enough to listen
Rest. Be Still.
You might find that you enjoy it
I need music like air and like water
I need to know I matter
I need the quiet but when I speak, I need to be heard
Will you sit with me and take time to know me?
Don’t try to fix me; I promise, I’m actually doing fine
You don’t have to do anything, and sometimes when you try too hard it drives me a little loco
I ask questions because I care, not just because I’m nosy
When you laugh and roll your eyes at my request for information, it hurts but I’m still going to ask
And when you tell me what you had for dinner, I hear that I matter, too
-Eva-Elizabeth Chisholm joined the L’Arche 6th Street home in Arlington, Va., in 2011 after completing a Master’s in social work at the University of Louisville. She wrote this poem in response to the way the world sees disability. She blogs at evachisholm.wordpress.com.