Reflections On Muscular Dystrophy

By Joan Fleitas

So where’s the trophy?
Where’s the part of this muscle disease that tells him
he’s a winner?
There it is attached to the “dys”, connected to something that makes him hurt.
But trophies shouldn’t hurt.
They should shine in the sun and be given to the
very best players of the game.
Could he be one of them?
He used to jump and run and turn somersaults.
No more.
He used to walk in step without thinking.
No more.
Others count the stars.
He counts the stairs, climbing each of them as if
it were a mountain.
He worries about another kind of stare, too;
A long look that says “you poor kid”, and
“it all seems so hard for you.”
People uncomfortable with difference
give these looks to him.
He doesn’t know quite what to do with them.

Isn’t a child supposed to grow up without a care?
Without thinking about how many stairs,
and how many stares?
Without knowing that life can be a struggle?

He struggles, and emerges from that effort
a champion.
A child who loves with intensity.
A winner who learns that life as challenge
has something to offer.
A believer in life as an unfolding of miracles–
miracles that surround him.
He is a miracle of creation,
And to him is awarded, with great merit,
A shiny trophy.