‘When I had my third child, we learned he had cerebral palsy and that he would need full-time care. I quit my job to be with him.’
“I was born in India and studied botany. I was engaged to my husband who was living in New York. In 1987, I followed him here so we could get married.
“I wanted to study microbiology when I got here, but couldn’t do it because of the cost. I didn’t know about financial aid then. I got my green card and became a teacher. I was teaching Islamic studies at the same school my kids went to.
“In 2000, when I had my third child, we learned he had cerebral palsy and that he would need full-time care. I quit my job to be with him. Oh my God, I cannot imagine a day without him. He’s everything to me. When you have a child like this, it’s really special. It’s been special.
“I hadn’t had a baby like this, so I didn’t know how to act. It was very difficult for me. I couldn’t understand if I was doing anything right or wrong. We would rush to the ER often. I would sometimes wake him up thinking he looked blue, but he wasn’t. I was so scared. He suffered from very bad seizures.
There is always light at the end of the tunnel.
“As time went by, the seizures became less and less. He now hasn’t had a seizure in almost seven years. I’ve noticed over the years that his level of understanding is much better now compared to before. I see that he’s more into things as he grows. Usually you think you would deteriorate, right? But with him, I see him being able to understand more and more. There are times when he watches movies and laughs at the punchline. His therapists agree, there is so much that he understands. That means a lot to us.
“Last year, we got to see him graduate from BOCES. His teacher, Ms. Diane, was so wonderful. God, I loved her so much. When we’d bring him to school, all the kids would be excited to see him. It was a very special moment. He was loved so much.
“I come from a very small town in India, and maybe some people won’t even know where it is, but thank God for the education my parents gave me. When I came to America, thank God, I could stand up for myself. There are so many things I stood up for, you know? Sometimes, I think, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe I did that.’
“We have a good life in New York, all of us. I love my family. We’ve learned that there is always hope. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.”
Interviewed by Maggie Melito