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A Day That Changed My Perspective

The end of the year is approaching again...but hey, we got past End of the World 2012! Yippee? And it is also during this time that people start making that drastic life-changing, direction-altering, lifestyle-enhancing list of things we will do in the upcoming new year.

But I am not going to do that.

I want to spend the rest of 2013 reminding me of one single moment that changed my life.

A couple of years ago, having woke up late and being late sending my kids to school, I was vehemently adamant that everything in life was wrong. My kids were wrong. My car was wrong. My house was wrong. The school was wrong. I was wrong....basically, everything needed to change.

Great morning that was.

After barking stuff I don't remember I barked anymore at my kids and dropping them off at their school, two of my friends called. We needed to get prescription from the in-house Doctor for a home for mentally challenged children because we have agreed to contribute some of the medicine to them.

Even worse morning. Because I forgot.

But we got it done anyway and what I came back to after purchasing all those meds for the kids was what changed the way I looked at life.

The entire floor was covered with mentally retarded children - some were crying, some were moaning in their sleep, some struggled to drink their milk because they had cleft palate problems, some were being coaxed by staff, some in wheelchairs, some were receiving physiotherapy from volunteer nurses from a neighboring college.

My friends took a look at me and teased, 'Marsha's gonna cry, Marsha's gonna cry, Marsha's gonna cry'. I lied when I said, 'No la! I am not!' I WAS gonna cry. The urge was held back by a thin thread of dignity.

There were three girls that changed me.

One girl wasn't completely retarded. She just had the mental capacity of a very young, innocent child. If she had been 'normal', I think she would have been a fashionista or a celebrity. In her hand was FEMALE magazine and as she thumbed through those pages, she pointed stuff like lipstick, handbags, shoes, necklaces, moisturizers and shampoo. She repeated her actions consistently and smiled widely every time I nod my head. She taught me that she is happy, regardless of the situation. I wonder what would happen if someone gave her a car magazine. She taught me that she had no boundaries against people who didn't understand her. She just went on with what she knew.

Another girl was slightly older. She was in a wheelchair waving me on on the outside. I was skeptical but went ahead to her side. She held my hand in hers and just shook it like an earthquake was happening or she was having some kind of spasm. Really freakishly happy to see me kind of handshaking. To the side, surprisingly, some of the kids were dancing. Oh boy, some of them really had the moves! Impressed. I was then thinking if the girl in the wheelchair would feel like she was left out of all the happiness but the smile on her face showed me that she was enjoying the fiasco just the way it was. She didn't have to dance in order to be happy. She was happy watching THEM being happy.

One girl had two cleft palates who kept looking at me while I was playing with other children. I refused to look her in the eye even when my friend boldly went on to speak to her, stroke her cheek and mumble words of encouragement to her. At the corner of my eye, I saw her looking at me. I refused to because I knew it would break my heart to let her see that I felt helpless that there was nothing I can do to make things better for her. I live knowing that I was in full control. Looking at her, it only reminded me that I wasn't.

But there was something about her that made me look and when I did, everything fell into place. Her eyes told me that 'everything was OK'. It wasn't me who comforted her. She didn't need comfort. I did.

These people can go on living their lives being who they are...because their lives, as hopeless as other normal people think they are, are the very lives that gives us perspective.

I came out a different person that day....and I want to remember that for the rest of my life.

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Written by: Marsha Maung
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