Donna Smaldone
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Monday / March 25 / 2013

Love is blind

Love-is-blind

“Oh, she’s so sweet!,” rings the voice of my 9-year-old niece Lainey about her friend Arianna. “She’s really smart, she has a pretty voice, and we like a lot of the same things.” As she ran through the list of attributes her new friend holds, never once did she say, “blind”. Not once! She didn’t need to. It had nothing to do with who her friend is.

The strings on my heart pulled taught as I realized my niece had discovered something most of us spend our whole lives looking to comprehend: unconditional love.

“Why didn’t she mention she’s blind?”, I thought to myself, quickly answering my own question. It doesn’t matter! The fact that this little girl can’t see makes no difference to the kind of FRIEND she is to Lainey. Even better, it makes no difference to the kind of friend Lainey is to her. Why would it? My friends don’t describe me as, “the girl with the horrible scar on her leg”.

Arianna doesn’t need to be ‘labeled’ with this one physicality. She doesn’t need to be labeled at all. My niece “gets” that. The more I reflected on it, the more I realized Lainey and Arianna “see” exactly the same way. With their hearts.

Aunt Donna with her sweet Lainey Love (Dec 2012)

Aunt Donna with her sweet Lainey Love (Dec 2012 in San Antonio, Texas)

As my Aunt Heart BEAMED and nearly beat out of my chest, I listened to my baby sissy tell the story of when Lainey and Arianna first met in the children’s choir at church. My analytically-minded niece was curious about Arianna’s lack of sight, fascinated to meet someone who was, “like Mary on Little House on the Prairie.” If anything, being blind gave Arianna a leg-up in Lainey’s estimation.

What others see as a handicap, Lainey just simply observes. Like with my scarred leg. Even as a wee one, Lainey would sit with me and just pet my scar. “It’s so soft,” she would tell me with such intrigue. How curious that a small child can give a grown adult a little piece of heaven so easily and freely. Isn’t that what we all yearn for? Acceptance of who we are?

Lainey lives without judging. Perhaps it’s because she doesn’t want to be judged herself. Perhaps it’s her innate fierceness to remain untainted by labels. Whatever it is, it drives Lainey’s capacity to fully engage with the lives of those around her. In her church choir, she wants to be the one who takes Arianna by the hand to move from one place to the next. Why? Well, mostly because she LIKES Arianna.

If ever I’ve needed a heart transplant, it’s to make mine more like Lainey’s. Pure. Benevolent. Nondiscriminatory. Filled with Joy. Ah, yes, Kris-n-Debbie… you named your daughter appropriately: Lainey Joy. Indeed she is.

 

2 Responses to “Love is blind”

  1. Dawn says:

    What a beautiful testement to the true unconditional love children have…oh how I envy it! It’s very apropos that you posted this at this point in time, I know this feeling all to well. When Catherine was born & Maggie came to see her the first words from her mouth were “she’s beautiful”, it surely wasn’t about what she could get from this other human being, but how she FELT based on the connection, and the lack of expectation about what the other person can give us. We can all learn from this lesson. Thanks for sharing.

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      I, too, am in awe of how children love with such wild abandon. I think of Catherine Elizabeth every March 31st and surely always will. Her brief life saved more hearts than an army could ever destroy… in part, because of her big sister’s love for her. What a beautiful family you and Michael have, my sweet friend. Thank you for sharing them with us this day.

      Love,
      Donna

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