November 8, 2007


transitive verb : to make better or more tolerable
intransitive verb : to grow better

Amelia is one of my favorite names. There is a character in my first short film, Metier, by that name. And, Amelia is now also the name of one of my favorite people in real life. My friend Frank introduced me to Amelia, his six-year-old daughter, who has cerebral palsy. I do not know a whole lot about the condition, but I do know that it effects a lot of the brain including motor and verbal skills. I know how frustrated I get when my hand-eye coordination is lacking, or when I can’t come up with the words to communicate what I mean, so I would think that it would be very hard to have a condition like Amelia’s.

However, when I am with Amelia, I don’t sense any difficulty. What I am overwhelmed by is a feeling of hope, of optimism, of doing one’s best without judgement, of not being afraid to try. Imagine that! Not being afraid to try! That is the energy coming forth from this 6-year-old, who somehow seems wise beyond her years, that life is easier than that, that we don’t have to be afraid to try.

I met Amelia only a year ago, when she was first learning to lift and hold her head up with some control. Now she holds her head up a lot! She even stands with balance support, and crawls on her own with encouragement. Amelia has exceeded all of her doctors expectations, and continues to improve! As I was leaving after our photo shoot together this weekend, Amelia, draped over her father’s shoulder, reached for my hand with hers. I didn’t remember her having this kind of motor control when I first met her, but I did remember that she always had her spark.

She had glimpsed at me during the first photo shoot we did together last winter, and suddenly, through the lens, I realized: She loves the camera. She knows what this is about. She is hamming it up! It was difficult for her to maintain eye contact with the camera, but she would lock in for a moment, and let me snap away. She could feel her connection with me through the camera, not as a child, but in the same way an actor or model connects with me through the camera – with a sense that there is an energy pulsing, and in a surge of that energy, things will align in my frame, and I will know to hit the shutter. There is trust involved in this, and Amelia sensed it. She offered me her trust. And I trusted her. I don’t need words to communicate with Amelia, and I think that is clear in the photos.

I am always so inspired when I see her. She is always progressing, always happy. It reminds me of the parts of me that are this way, and it makes me remember we are all here to live the life we have to the fullest. What that means for me is very different than what it means for Amelia. Nonetheless, it is my obligation to live up to it with zest and love – and without judgement – and she reminds me of this every time we hang out.

Have a look at Amelia’s amazing school! If you’re thinking about holiday donations, this would be a great cause to support: Standing Tall.

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