I walked in the hotel and saw the huge welcome poster that said “Friends, the National Association of Young People Who Stutter.” It was the realization that led me to a quick journey down memory lane.
I was a little girl who stuttered, the only one. All the preserved emotions were in a coma, but they woke me up ever so quickly. I now speak with occasional blocks, but they are rarely noticeable.
Suddenly, I felt like a little girl who lacked in confidence and power in a woman’s body. All the mixed, suppressed emotions were coming out with powerful force. I was fighting the tears for my reluctant 17 year old son, Alex. I named him after Alexander the Great – The king of Macedon. I wanted him to grow up undefeated in any obstacles he may face, and be the successful commander of his life.
As I glance at him, I see the scar behind his ear down to his neck. It was the result of cancer. As anyone can imagine, the unexpected news was a devastating diagnosis. We went through a period of time where life seemed so uncertain. The confusion and fear was paralyzing. I knew I had to charge like an angry bull, but I was just a wilting flower in the desert. Alex, on the other hand, at the age of 13, was the commander of his war. The war of cancer. He was Alexander the Great.
Every day, he nourished me with his positive attitude. He was unbelievably strong. I was worried that he was masking his fear to protect me. After we were confident enough to believe that his prognosis was great, I asked him where his inner strength came from. Before we had any idea that Alex may be faced with cancer, I was so inspired by Randy Pausch, the author of “The Last Lecture”. He was a professor who was given a few months to live due to pancreatic cancer. I downloaded his lecture and had my family watch it. In his lecture, Randy stated that he made the decision to live like “Tigger” rather than “Eeyore”. Alex told me that he too wanted to be a Tigger when he heard of this horrific diagnosis. Now, what can I say? I was so proud of him and shamed of my lack in strength when he needed me the most.
Now it is my turn to be the source of nourishment for him. The war of stuttering seems to be even more of a challenge for him, since the war never ends. Alex is reluctant and lacking in patience and tolerance. With my little knowledge, I tried to encourage him; however, he becomes “mother deaf” to all my efforts to lift him when it comes to the issue of stuttering.
At the registration, we were greeted by so many people who are so kind. They made us feel so welcome. Still, Alex tried to hide and seemed as though he did not want to be a part of “them”. Soon, he found a friend; his name is Brad. This was Brad’s first convention as well. I saw the smiles on their faces. I felt so relieved and knew that this would be a positive experience for sure. For me, this convention exceeded all my expectations in every aspects. I am witnessing people stutter with such confidence, they have overcome incredible emotional and psychological barriers which seem to set them free. I was extremely moved by their bravery and honesty.
The guest speakers were so informative and entertaining, as well as uplifting. Who could forget the kids and adults who stood in front of the big crowd to tell their inspiring stories? Now, that’s courage. The parents were beyond wise; their wisdom filled my heart with joy and confidence that I too could be a better parent to a child who stutters. Well! Actually, the parenting skills that I’ve learned from them pertain to any children. I’ll improve my listening skills and acknowledge Alex and my daughter, Cassidy, who does not stutter. I am walking away inspired and determined to be a better listener, and a better mother to my children.
I want to thank everyone who gives so much to make a difference in our lives. My gratitude list just doubled. Thank you for your support. This is the mark of our new beginning. God bless.
Aehui Haase – August 2010