Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Life Beyond Reason

Chris Gabbard, an associate professor of English at the University of North Florida, has published an essay on the evolution of his perspectives regarding his severely handicapped son, August. Professor Gabbard has much to teach us about the depth of parental commitment and how caring for a special needs child can enhance the outlook of the caretaker as well.

Gabbard writes: “To admit how August has changed me is not to assert that what he has given me compensates for what he, my wife, my daughter, and I have lost on account of the poor decisions made by the hospital where he was born. There is no getting back what we have lost. Compensation is just a trope, and belief in compensation is as superstitious as belief in the medieval notion of correspondences. Besides, nothing can compensate for what all of us have had to give up.

“That is not to deny that August, along with my daughter and my wife, is the most amazing and wonderful thing that has ever happened to me, for he has allowed me an additional opportunity to profoundly love another human being.”

Professor Gabbard’s essay can be accessed in its entirety here. It will also appear in Papa, PhD: Essays on Fatherhood by Men in the Academy, published this month by Rutgers University Press.