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Ferris, Jim / Facts of life

Mea culpa,   pp. 33-34

Page 33

Mea Culpa 
Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children-for charity cases. 
I was just another crippled child-a leg among legs, arms, 
backs-bones gone awry. We just want to help you, poor cripple. 
This is for your own good, little cripple. The Shriners wear 
funny hats. I wear my shame, wear it outside 
my pants, for all to see-and look away. I look away, 
and we change the subject, and people call me brave 
behind my back. Oh brave new world, that has such people 
in it. I never think of you as crippled. I never think of you 
without knowing my shame, that festering deformed secret 
hidden deep in my soul yet there for all the world to see: 
I am worthless, a mistake, a trick of genetics or fate. Mea culpa. 
I don't belong here with all these cripples-seldom 
do I see their shame-but I belong nowhere else, 
not in the normal world-I wear my shame on the outside. 
Mea culpa. I make them uncomfortable. Mea culpa. I make us 
all uncomfortable. Mea maxima culpa. But there is no one 
to forgive me-God doesn't care, and leaves me bait 
for faith healers and the cult of silent suffering. This: God 
has singled you out-it's not an accident-God picked you, 
you must be strong to carry this cross. Offer it up for the greater honor
and glory of God. And this: if you really believe, you'll be healed. 
It is only up to you-just have enough faith. When the healing fails 
it is my fault for not having enough faith-mea culpa. It is my fault 
for being a chump-mea culpa. It is always my fault-mea maxima culpa. 
Surgery after surgery, my leg is no longer. Healing is no longer. 
no longer hating full-length mirrors and glass buildings, no longer 
needing small minds to accept me, forgive me, redeem me. God, 

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