Friday, May 23, 2014

Disability Parking

Gosh, was it a month ago? Three months ago?  I don't remember. No matter; quite a while ago, we started the process of getting the Dancing Queen a handicap placard for the car.  There are just times she can't walk far and we end up carrying her.  She is getting heavier now though and we can't carry her far, so we needed to be able to use handicap parking.

I filled out the top of application and the hospice team filled in the rest.  And then the application sat in my kitchen waiting for me to make the trek to the Secretary of State's Office.  I never had the time to stand in line.  I couldn't find a way to fit the SOS into my schedule.  (Or perhaps I didn't want to think about my daughter being disabled.)

Then, we had the day where DQ was tired and I had to carry her to the car.  I didn't have the strength to carry her the entire way and she cried.  Earlier this week, DQ got winded and started coughing walking into school.

I no longer had the option of waiting.  So, this morning after dropping the kids off at school, I went to the SOS's office.  I stood in line.  I sat in the waiting area.  All of it no big deal.

I walked up when my number was called.  I handed over the paperwork and said: "I need disability parking for my daughter."  The woman looked at my form with disbelief, scrutinizing every word.  I could tell she didn't believe I really needed disability parking.  She stated: "Oh, this is for a little one."

Yes, she is six.

The woman asked if it was my signature on the form as I pulled out my driver's license.  "Does your daughter use a wheelchair all of the time?"

Not all of the time, but when needed.  She can walk, just not far.

The woman seemed skeptical and I wanted to scream at her: "I don't want disability parking!  I want my daughter to be like every other child, but I have no choice!"  Instead, I stood there as she scrutinized, judging me and thinking I was cheating the system.

The woman was then satisfied that my forms were properly filled out (even if not quite convinced we were not cheating).  I asked if the tab could be switched between cars and she tersely stated: "As long as YOUR DAUGHTER is in the car, it can be used."

Then she walked away.  She came back with the placard, read the paperwork again and noted "Oops! It's permanent." As she walked back to get the permanent placard, the tears started to flow.

I kept thinking, "permanently disabled."

There weren't too many tears, just a couple that dared to escape.  I discretely wiped them away, as I tried to put the thought of DQ never being able to walk far out of my head.

Then the woman wrote that the placard would expire on DQ's birthday in 2019, and I realized that this tab would likely outlast DQ.  I had to ask what we do should DQ pass away before the tab expires, but I couldn't get the words out.  The woman's demeanor immediately changed (I can't imagine too many people cry at the SOS office).  She knew at that point that I wasn't trying to scam the system.  And she was so kind as I stood there sobbing at her desk.  She didn't make me finish the words.  She apologized to me, told me I just had to bring the tab back to their office, and she ran to grab me tissues.

I couldn't stop the tears and I couldn't leave the building fast enough.  I dropped a tissue on the floor as I searched for my keys.  As I hurried away, a woman in the waiting area let me know of my dirty tissue on the floor, so I had to run back.  All I wanted to do was to run away, to crawl in a hole and hide.  Here I was, surrounded by over 50 neighbors, sobbing like an idiot.  I felt the neon light flash above my head: "DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! Mother of dying daughter! Extreme emotions present!" It was all I could do to escape.

Once safe in my car, I cried my eyes out, pulled myself together so I could move on with my day, pretending to be like everybody else.


  1. I can only imagine the sorrow you felt carrying out that task. It is good to hear that the clerk apologized. Even though there is some fraud in getting those placards, one should be given the benefit of the doubt. I hope that you all will have even more fun and better times without the DQ having to walk or be carried.


  2. This makes my heart break. I'm so sorry.


Having a child with a CHD is like being given an extra sense---the true ability to appreciate life. Each breath, each hug, each meal is a blessing when you've watched your child live off a ventilator, trapped in an ICU bed, being fed through a tube. Each minute is a miracle when you've watched your child almost die and come back to you.
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