Conversations with a Unicorn Continued

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I was transferring tomatoes into bigger pots when it happened again.  The Unicorn came.  Knowing him as I now did, I assumed it was the tomatoes that attracted him. So I wasn’t fazed when the creature chomped down on several newer plants.  “How are things?” I asked.

“Not bad,” he answered.  “Being unreal is so much easier than being real.”

“Why is that?” I asked, potting another small plant.

“Simple, being unreal, I can cease and begin and cease and begin again.  I can show up because you have tomatoes, but the real must exist from beginning to end.  They must go on whether there are tomatoes or not.  There is no point at which a real creature can cease to exist and then exist again.  Once one is gone, one is gone.”

“Yes, but there are stages of being, we change.  We are born, we grow, we age, we die.  You don’t die.”  I started misting the tomatoes.

“I don’t live either.  You change, you grow, but the fundamental core of you remains the same.  The DNA of you is the same today as it was the day you were conceived.”

My Down syndrome son Paul, was on a blanket, enjoying his toys and the weather.

“Yes.”  At the word DNA, it triggered a thought of my son’s karyotype test that revealed Trisomy 21.  Every cell of his body has that marker that makes up his Down Syndrome condition.

“He is rare.”

“Yes.  Though the condition is common.”

“Why is he rare?”

“Because we can now test to see that a child has this condition, and some people opt not to have children with handicapping conditions since the test gives them the opportunity to choose.”

“So if there were a test that indicated if a child had autism or bi-polar disorder that could be administered before birth and people could get the results, would there be fewer children with those conditions?”

“Probably.”

“What about ADHD?  Schitzophrenia?  What about a greater chance of developing Parkinson’s or Diabetes or Alzhemiers?”

“Well I would hope not but again, probably.”

The Unicorn snorted and looked at my tomatoes.   “You have a lot of different types of plants.”

“Yes, pineapple tomato, roma, big boy, Nebraska wedding, pear, yellow.”

“Diversity of color, of shape, of form, of seed, of taste and size.” The Unicorn flicked his tail.

“Yes.”

“If it’s good for tomatoes, isn’t it good for more complex creatures like yourself?” He asked, and pushed a toy with his horn towards my son.

“People are afraid of suffering.  They don’t want their children to have pain.”  I tried to be reasonable.

The Unicorn flattened one ear, he was many things, truthful, beautiful and smart, but not reasonable. “They’re afraid of the work involved, of sacrifice.  Instead, they’re not having children.”  He snapped.

“No, they’re not having these children.”  I corrected.

“They fear how much they might love these children.  Real love sometimes aches more than the world can bear.”  He nuzzled my son’s belly, and my son broke into pleased giggles.   “They will only grow more fearful as their knowledge advances if they refuse to be wise.”  My son was still staring at the Unicorn, grabbing at his muzzle and smiling with his happy blue eyes, cooing and gurgling his pleasure.  “They will miss moments like this and countless others as they discern that a child should not have an IQ below 100 or learning disablilities or deafness or mental retardation or emotional problems or autism or physical traits that are considered undesirable.

They will become less tolerant of all but the perfect, and even unloving of the perfect itself, for that will be not the result of hard work or love, but engineering and plans.”

I looked at my son and swallowed hard as I admitted, “I wouldn’t have wanted my son to have a disability.”

“No, but would you wave a wand today and make him someone else?” That other ear flattened.

“No.  He’s beautiful.  He’s whole.  He’s my son.”

“Good.  There is more to life than ease or perfection.  Beauty and truth does not require all A’s or advanced degrees.   Love requires we be able to love even the flawed, even one’s self.”

“We did take care of his heart.”

“Yes, you took care of his health, not the same as removing a flaw.  Making everyone perfect means you do not need love, and the world will be peopled by folks who can barely tolerate each other, let alone themselves.   There is no surgery or medicine or magic that can make one more worthy of love, only more attractive.   Real beauty comes from gifts, from talent, from work, from kindness, from service and from humility.”

He backed away from me, I knew our meeting would soon end.  His coat shimmered and he shook himself for the best effect.  “My coat needs no work.  I need no care.  I am an illusion of beauty and purity.  I am a myth, therefore I require no love.  Whereas he,” and he pointed with his horn to my son, “requires feeding and care and medicine and playing and songs and that is a gift of great beauty.   Real beauty involves real love, real work.”

The plants he had eaten reappeared in their new pots.  “So what do I do with this information?” I asked as he started to fade away.

He snorted and I saw both ears flick forward as he nodded, “Keep working, and encourage all of your friends to keep being real.”

Copyright 2009 Sherry Antonetti

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About Author

Sherry Antonetti is a mother of ten children, published author of The Book of Helen and a freelance writer of humor and family life columns. You can read additional pieces from her blog, http://sherryantonettiwrites.blogspot.com.

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