Noah hears from friends, family and colleagues what we all hear when we have a bad day with chronic illness: "You sound (look) just fine", "You were fine yesterday"; and when he feels better he gets blamed for faking it, and being self-centered and unreliable. "Today is not yesterday," Noah counters, feeling more and more down as he continues to be disbelieved and criticized.
In the course of the book, the folks who were not understanding or compassionate about Noah's ill health come to grips with their judgments of him, realizing that he is usually sociable, dependable, and kind, and that he had been having a bad day. They value Noah for his good qualities and become more compassionate about what his illness does to him.
Young children with chronic illness will feel comforted when they hear about Noah's bad days, because they have bad days, too. They will be able to relate to others not understanding what they go through and the emotions that they experience.
I see even more value in this story being read to groups of children, where there is one or more with illness, so that the others may learn to develop compassion and empathy toward their friend's limitations and bad days. Understanding how invisible chronic illness changes and limits others, and learning how to be kind and supportive when others are having a bad day, are valuable lessons to be learned early on in life.
Of course, family members who read this book can become much more sensitized to how their ill loved one experiences life. These are the people who can become most frustrated by dealing with the child's limitations on a daily basis.
Can you imagine how much easier and fulfilling our chronically ill lives would be if others accepted our limitations when they were younger, or even now? Can you imagine how much better we would have felt about ourselves when we became chronically ill if we had known that others experienced the same emotions and complications in their lives?
This is an important book for enlightening youngsters about the reality of chronic illness and appreciating the person who has the illness as a whole person, not just someone who is different from them. If we can nurture acceptance and compassion at a young age, this world will be a better place.
When we help young (and adult) people with chronic illness to accept their limitations and live beyond them as whole and vital human beings, not as labels or isolated sectors of the population, our society becomes richer with their creativity, spirit and contributions. When we accept, respect, support and celebrate others who are ill, disabled or different from us in any way, we embrace a practice of kindness that impacts the the entire human race.
Thank you, Judith, for writing this book.
You can purchase Noah the Narwhal: A Tale of Downs and Ups from Amazon and Barnes and Noble in hardcover.