Sometime between 1997 and 1999, I got my nerve up to finally show the story to someone I wasn’t married to.

My cousin Lucy was visiting us, and I had made an off-hand comment about having a story with an unknown purpose. I told her I didn’t know what to do with it, but was also sure I didn’t write it (Lucy would understand that comment, and not think me crazy). She wanted to read it. Reviewer #2 then went on to my back porch, with her back to me and read. I could tell when she was finished so I joined her (after all, you only needed to turn the page once). She was crying. Then I was crying. Her tears confused me. Mine, I was beginning to understand. I wanted so much to help “the kids,” yet at the same time, I was saying silent, head-screaming grateful prayers that I had eyes and ears that worked, and began to actually thank God for them, rather than thanking lucky genes. Lucy understood that too. Lucy just looked at me and asked me “what are you going to do with it?” I gave the reply I was always giving myself: “I don’t know.”

Lucy’s tears gave me courage. I interpreted them as the result of “getting it.” I decided to try someone else. I approached a person I felt was a friend, but who also might have “connections” and “ideas” about what I should do with it—somebody who could grease the skids, somebody who also daily experienced some of what I was experiencing by association with these special children and adults, but with the added benefit of professional connections. Surely, she had “gotten it.” I took her to lunch and “set the stage” for how it all came about. After I paid the bill, we moved to a nearby bench, and I sat nervously fidgeting while she read the page and a half. She didn’t cry. In fact, she told me it wasn’t very good. It needed a LOT of work. It needed rewriting. She wouldn’t recommend I do anything with it except introduce it to the circular file.

At this point, I learned a valuable lesson: Never allow one person who doesn’t “get it” to control your own reactions. I allowed the negative reactions of this third reader to overshadow my joy in having been given this story, and in my building belief that it may have some value to others. She made it easy at this point to just slink back into my shell of interiority and stay there, not risking negative reactions to something that was growing so close and personal to my heart and soul—something I was beginning to believe in.