Passion, for Ben

Lucy had a far-off soccer game, and Charlotte has a hacking cough, so it was just Ben and me this morning at St. John’s, to celebrate Palm Sunday and re-live the Passion. Ben didn’t complain that his sisters weren’t going with us. Ben’s only complaint–ever–is about practicing piano.

Ben with Easter treats, April 2011

Ben with Easter treats, April 2011

Being at church with Ben is such a curious situation. I experience feelings of support, sympathy, pity, optimism and blessedness, all at once. If I’m at church without Ben, I’m barely noticed. With Ben, all eyes are on us. We are greeted, always so warmly, by Sister, who is genuinely delighted to see Ben, and doesn’t pat his head. She bends down to talk to him face-to-face and always asks him a meaningful question. Similarly, the priests smile, greet Ben, shake his hand or give him a high five. Today, the priest, recalling a conversation from at least 3 months ago, said, “I see you brought your most well-behaved child with you today!”. Shocked he remembered our talk from January, I had to agree–and had to marvel, once again– at how lucky we are to have Ben.

A couple months ago, when Charlotte, Lucy, Ben and I were all at church together, I had my hands full. My kids are old enough to act decently, but Charlotte was clingy, and every time I helped Ben with something, she tried to interfere. Being at church has a very calming effect on me, so instead of doing what I’d do at home (scream, shout, add expletive here), I hugged her with one arm, Ben with the other, and even managed to give Lucy reaffirming squeezes to her hand every so often, as if to say, “I know you’re older and don’t need me to hug you, but I still love you”.

Two really interesting things happened. One was that a woman sitting next to us told me what a joy it was to watch us in church. The other is that a woman sitting behind us gave me her card and said that if I ever needed any help with Ben, like meeting him at his busstop or helping him get to school, that I could call her and she would help me. Normally I would be quite skeptical about such an offer, but she confided that she had a son in his late twenties who uses a wheelchair, so she understood more than what I first gave her credit for.

It would be easy for me to mistake these gestures and offers as being overly sympathetic or being done out of pity, but that would be wrong. Yet it’s what I would have done a few years ago. I can tell that I’m growing up, because now I bask in the compliment that I’m a competent mother, and I feel good that apparently I’m approachable enough for someone to offer help. It’s been a lot of big steps to get to this place. I know that people who compliment me and offer us help see that I feel passion for Ben. And what an appropriate day to share this than on the Lord’s Passion.


Prateep Ghose posted on April 1, 2012 at 11:55 pm

It’s wonderful that you are sharing this with all of us. Reading your blog, I have a feeling of calmness and inspiration, knowing that with Ben in our lives we too have been enriched. Thank you! Love, Dad

Trish posted on April 12, 2012 at 8:47 pm

I love reading your (beautifully written) blogs Rani… Warms my heart.

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