What is “normal”? A disabled couple redefines the right to lead an average life.
Life is a wild, unpredictable journey. It is a quest that’s defined by the paths one paves and the choices they make, despite how difficult or unpopular those choices may be. When one paves these paths and makes these decisions “on the fly”, however, it’s sometimes even harder to predict what’s going to happen or how others are going to respond.
It can be argued that there’s beauty on the flipside of that—when one does something despite swimming in a sea of negative opinions, with a constant cloud of doubt looming over their head. It’s invigorating, perhaps even intoxicating in a way that often cannot be described with words or emotion. It’s a different kind of feeling and sensation that’s best described with purposeful action. That action doesn’t always have to be big, loud or flamboyant. It just has to leave a mark of human existence.
The most vital aspect in all this is the need for a fundamental sense of normalcy in mankind’s daily existence—and the need to define the very word “normal” by one’s own standards and principles. Thus exercising and exemplifying the notion that all individuals have the right to live a normal life, no matter how hectic or “abnormal” it seems to the rest of the world.
The search to find what’s “normal” can be long, exhausting and even heartbreaking—but it can also change the perspectives of others or at least give them a little more to think about than what they perhaps started their own search with. The story of 24-year-old Sarah Redmile and her boyfriend, James Ellis, 25, is redefining what it means to live a normal life—as well as changing hearts and minds as the couple welcomes their first daughter, Admira, into the world.
She was born in late November last year and according to Mirror, a UK-based website—both Redmile and Ellis are overcoming all stereotypes across the board since. They have cerebral palsy, a condition which presents itself in various ways and is widely known as one of the most common disabilities in the world. This has left many doctors doubtful as to whether or not the couple, who have been together for ten years, was fit to have a child. The doubt continued to grow as doctors and medical professionals discovered Ellis was in a wheelchair. Medical professionals were also skeptical that Redmile could handle the physical demands of pregnancy. She walks with the help of crutches, but relies on a wheelchair as well.
The Jan. 13 report from Mirror stated that they were “shocked and upset” when they were told there was no feasible, legitimate way they could physically have—nor care for a child. Redmile and Ellis’ journey doesn’t stop there, however. They’re also a bi-racial couple who has likely been plunged even further into the world of stereotypes because of that fact alone. All these factors combined have motivated them even more to improve their own lives. This whirlwind of skepticism, however, adds to the couple’s fuel to do everything they can to be good, loving parents.
For Ellis, that means honing his skills as a rap artist in the music industry. He elaborates on the message he wants to send his daughter—and the world—in the video shown above:
“When I’m on stage [doing] a song, whether it’s one song for three minutes or six songs for twenty-five, I’m free for that amount of time,” Ellis says. “I’m not the guy that’s in the wheelchair. I’m the guy that’s rapping. I’ve met quite a few people who don’t have the same attitude as me, and that’s the main reason why I wanted to do [this] because I wanted to show them that they can do exactly what I’m doing—and more.”
Redmile also looks at parenthood as an opportunity to inspire others to adapt and find ways to live life to the fullest:
“People ask us how we’ll manage or how we’re going to be able to keep up with Admira when she’s older—but James and I are a team,” she said. “He’ll do the things I can’t do—and vice-versa. We don’t like the idea of [limitations] or reigns, and we [utilize] them instead. We’re very resourceful, so we’ll find a way.”
Both James and Sarah admitted they were unsure of how they would care for their daughter at first—although they knew a plethora of major roadblocks was inevitable. However, just as they’ve done throughout their journey together, they’ve turned negatives into positives. James went on to add that the primary reason why doctors repeatedly told him and Sarah “no” was because they took them at “face value”.
This is more than just a story about people overcoming obstacles. It’s more than a story of color and unity. When you peel back all the layers, this is a portrait of a young couple trying to figure out the best way to raise their child—just as any young, first-time parents would. James and Sarah might not have everything set in stone, but who does?
I think that’s the real beauty here. In humankind’s quest to be “normal”, there’s no rule that says everything has to be planned out perfectly right here, right now. We learn as we go—and that’s what this beautiful couple is doing. In fact, they may even have an advantage, because they’re likely accustomed to adjusting and adapting at the drop of a dime—in ways that most don’t think about.
In turn, I think the moral of this story can be found within what each and every one of us perceives as normal. Not what a dictionary says it is. By the same token, it’s refreshing to read a story that strips down something so many consider typical, maybe even mundane—and completely turns it on its head to make it unique.
In the end, we’re all trying to do our best—in the best way we know how. After all, isn’t that part of what makes life worth living?
Photo Credit: Mirror Online