Following the Right Star Home

Judith Snow

Address to the Summer Institute on Inclusion, Community and Diversity Toronto, Ontario
8 July 1997

Last year, at the end of the Summer Institute, I heard exactly the words that I needed to hear. When Janet and Darryl spoke at the end of the week, they said, -“Bryce is a blessing, not a problem.”
-“A blessing not a problem.” I heard this, and I wondered, -“So, what am I alive for?”

I have spent many years hell bent on persuading people that there is no such thing as di􀀁ability. That we will only live together in the right way when we recognize people’s gifts. In hearing this clear statement about Bryce, I realized that the message I have lived to deliver is planted enough. Enough people know it that it will con­tinue to spread and grow. And I know from years of advocacy work that you can ruin your own work by continuing to do it when you are done.
I had a sense of being done with something deeply important and I felt a kind of depression.
A few months later I was hanging upside down in my van, covered in gasoline, cold, and almost unable to breath. The van had slipped in the freezing rain and turned upside down, and for forty five minutes I hung there.
For several months after the accident I found that I could not fully focus my attention. A good friend, who is a speech-language therapist, says I probably suffered some trauma to the occipital region of my brain. The experience was like find­ing a rock in the middle of my mind. Every thought had to split into two streams to flow around the rock, and there were unusual whirl­pools and eddies in my thinking.