She was maybe six years old， smiling and ladylike[如淑女的] in a gauzy[薄纱的] white dress. The kind of dress that makes me want a daughter. The kind of smile thats heavy on sugar and light on spice[香料， 调味品]. She walked up to my son， as he wheeled in the circles outside the sanctuary[教堂] after church， and planted herself squarely[正好] in front of his wheelchair. They studied each other closely. He waved hello.
And then， without taking her eyes from his face， she said， “I feel sorry for him.”
I felt it more than I heard it. Deep in my stomach， in that place right below my breastbone[胸骨]. The place where I keep all my fears and my sadness. I felt it like a kick in the ribs[肋骨].
Children ask all sorts of questions about my son.
Why is he in that？ Why cant he walk？ Whats wrong with him？ Will he need that thing forever？
But questions are easy. For children，questions have answers.
“I feel sorry for him” is not a question. It is a statement[陳述] of fact. A revelation[揭露]. A public disclosure[披露] of something I know to be true. Although I fight against it and try to believe otherwise， I know that many people feel the same way. Many people who see my son， smiling and spinning[欺骗， 哄] and exploring his world， and they feel sorry. They feel sadness. But adults know how to filter[过滤]. We know what not to say. We know to bottle it up[隐藏，克制]. This little girl was a leak[漏洞] in the system.
A system that tells her my sons wheelchair is “very sad.”
A system that tells her he is a “poor thing.”
A system that uses words like confined to[关在……里面]， suffers from[患……病] and bound[受约束的].
A system that prefers to see people like my son as victims[受害者]， as recipients[接受者] of charity[施舍]， as less-fortunates waiting to be healed， rather than seeing them as neighbors， colleagues[同事]， teachers and friends.
A system that tells her my son smiles “in spite of，” rather than simply because he too is a child and has access to[接近] all the same earthly wonders that she does.
Wonders like fireflies， and candlelight， and going fast， and little girls in gauzy white dresses.
So I stood there shocked out of my comfort and fumbling[摸索] around for words to make this right. I wanted so desperately[极度地] to undo[取消] the damage done by a system that is still learning to accept my son. But I was tongue-tied and clumsy[笨拙的] as I mumbled[含糊地说话] something about “not needing to feel sorry…” And I walked away feeling like a failure. As if this little girl represented[描述] the whole world and I had missed my chance to set the record straight.
I realized I am very small. I am only one person.
Then last week， sitting by the pool with my husband and my splashy[引人注目的] little boy， I heard it again. This time from a teen， maybe 19 years old. He had seen us there a few times. Today he had a girl with him. A girl he liked. I could tell. He gestured in our direction.
“Somethings wrong with that kid，” he whispered to her.“Did you see his back？ He cant walk. So sad…”
I felt it more than I heard it. And I put my head down waiting for her reply. Her agreement. Her inevitable[必然的] recognition that， yes， my childs life is very very sad.
“Its not sad，” she said， looking at my son with so much kindness.“My brother was in the Special Olympics. Nothing sad about it. That kid is cute.”
And then my heart turned to mush[糊狀物] and I closed my eyes to keep from crying.
I wanted to hug her. I wanted to tell her how rare she is. And how lovely. I wanted to believe she was once a little girl in a gauzy white dress.
More than anything， I wanted to thank her for reminding me that I am not the only one who sees my son for who he is. Unconfined[无拘束的]， unbound[解除束缚的]， human.
I am only one person. But I am not alone.