The Sagami River in Japan.

My friend charlie – sue swenson

Board Member Nagase Osamu brought Sue Swenson into the conversation with GLIDE FUND – we are reminded that there are many people who willingly advocate and dedicate their lives to create positive change for people with disabilities.

We wanted to share this message from Sue following the tragedy that took place July 26, 2016. Published here with her permission: 

Sue Swenson. Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, US Department of Education.[Memorial]

“Dear Friends,

Our hearts are heavy with pain and love as we think of your loss at Tsukui Yamayuri En, Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture on 26 July 2016.

For Americans with disabilities and their families, July 26th is important. It is the anniversary of our Americans with Disabilities Act.

Please know that, like you, we continue to hope and work for dignity and brotherhood for all members of the human family, in every nation and every community. We must be especially devoted to those with the most severe disabilities and intellectual disabilities, for they are the most vulnerable.

My beloved son Charlie was profoundly disabled. I include a poem that was written for him by his caregiver, Nate Hajdu. I hope that it will bring you some comfort as it did for me when Nate read the poem at Charlie’s funeral in January of 2013.

We are in this life together. I humbly stand with you.

My Friend Charlie

He is my friend: I am his friend

I help him out: He helps me to learn

I help him to learn: He helps me to grow

I help him to grow: He teaches me to accept

His struggle: Is my struggle

His vulnerability: Leads to my respect

My respect: Leads him to trust

His trust: Leads to my devotion

His availability: Feeds my desire to be needed

I keep his secrets: He keeps mine

We have an arrangement

His lack of self-consciousness: Leads to my tolerance

His constant need for stimulation: Leads to my patience

His discomfort: Sharpens my sensitivity

His unhappiness: Is my challenge

His presence: Eases my isolation

His loyalty: Leads to my loyalty

Which leads to mutual appreciation

His brokenness: Makes me accept my own brokenness

Which leads to healing

His humanity: Leads to personal connection

His steadfastness: Centers me

His smile: Is my reward

His joy: Lifts my spirits

His happiness: Gives me a sense of purpose

His struggles: Expose my anxieties

Which tests me

Then strengthens me

And in turn bolsters my faith

In guiding: I am guided

In helping: I am helped

In teaching: I am taught

In his laughter: There is joy

In that joy: There is energy

In that energy: There is spirit

In that spirit: There is grace”