A Christmas letter to the Weaver family of Cornelius, North Carolina.
From the people of Tacoma, Washington.
Dear Natalie and Mark:
It’s been said that life’s hard times are made a little easier through the kindness of strangers. We pray that you and your three children receive so much kindness this holiday season that it fills your cup to overflowing. So much that it washes away the cruelty of strangers.
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Few things are more cruel than the vile outburst spewed at you last week by someone who, we’re sorry to say, lives in our community. The woman, a social-media troll, was offended by the very existence of your 10-year-old daughter, Sophia — a beautiful child because of her perseverance through facial, hand and feet deformities.
Only a sadistic soul would look at your family Facebook photos and dare to comment: “If you TRULY loved her, you’d go the selfless & empathetic route by putting her out of her misery.”
Sadly, there are countless sadistic souls lurking in the dark corners of the internet. These so-called grownups need to be held accountable for cyberbullying every bit as much as kids; many adults could benefit from the curriculum students are taught in local classrooms.
As horrid as the Tacoma woman’s Facebook post was, it ranked as the second-most shocking statement we read that day. The first came from you, Natalie, as you sized up the woman’s screed in an interview with a News Tribune reporter.
“Next to the death threats, this was in the top five of the most offensive comments I’ve received,” you said, almost matter-of-factly.
Death threats? Top five?
It defies all human decency that you, the mother of a disabled child and founder of the nonprofit Sophia’s Voice, have to harden yourself to routine barrages of cruelty.
Please know that the vast majority of people in the Tacoma area look at Sophia and see a champion — a girl who daily rises above the effects of a rare neurological disorder called Rett syndrome.
You see, Pierce County is a place that treasures children of all shapes, sizes and medical conditions. Perhaps you’d never heard of us before last week, but the Tacoma we wish you could know is home to award-winning Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, supported by scores of gracious people who just gave $1.6 million in the annual Festival of Trees fundraiser.
The community we wish you could experience also proudly hosts the Children’s Therapy Unit at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, which showers compassion on special-needs infants, children and teens. The unit’s founding in 1966 marked a turning point, a new era when kids with birth defects and disabilities — young champs like Sophia — would no longer be warehoused and forgotten.
We hope one Facebook troll doesn’t spoil your image of Tacoma; instead, think of us as a city that embraced “Wonder,” the inspirational novel about a boy named Auggie who’s so much more than a 10-year-old child with a disfigured face. We journeyed with Auggie in the “Tacoma Reads Together” program in 2013.
In the book’s climactic scene, Auggie’s principal gives a speech to the 5th grade graduating class at his middle school. “If every single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary – the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.”
May your courageous daughter, Sophia, be blessed by many random acts of kindness in the new year.
Merry Christmas, from your friends in the 253.