As I was leaving this woman's home after my visit that first day, I turned to smile and say goodbye. Instantly I was transported back to the many times that a family member had come to see me in my apartment and was then preparing to leave. Tears welled in my eyes as I recalled the feeling that, as they had come and brought a piece of life with them, they now were taking life away as the door pulled shut. It was the silence that smothered you. It's what I used to term "the sameness." When you're inside every day for years each day becomes the same. Then I left her shutting the door behind me.

I now speak publicly about my experience and strive to bring awareness and change to the treatment of the obese, both medically and in how society's prejudice impacts these people's lives. They are as valuable as any other living soul. In this age of supposed sensitivity regarding diversity, it would seem that prejudice toward the overweight is still universally considered fair game. After all, "we" aren't like "them." "We" would never let that happen to "us"! Look in the mirror, America. I guarantee you that many of these people have far more beautiful spirits than those who point the fingers.

My life is so changed. I had not driven a car since 1987. I had to ask the service station attendant whether my car took unleaded gasoline. I got the oddest look from him. I had never seen the digital scanners used at the grocery store or a can crushing machine. Tall buildings had appeared downtown in my absence; places that were fields a dozen years before were now shopping malls. I can now go and stay overnight at my son's house, play ball in the yard with my two grandsons or feed ducks in the park. I had dreamt for years of sitting in long, lush grass and wriggling my toes through it, believing that that day would never come to me again. And yet it did come.

I smile all the time. Some think I'm crazy; but I know a secret. It's as clear as the nose on my thinner face. Life is sweet and always worth living no matter the tempests that blow through it. There will always be a sunrise and a second chance if you believe. I believe. I believe in me.
© Nancy Makin, February 20, 2006


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