-By Rishi Thondunathan
In past 12 years I was very blessed to spend much of my time with people with special needs. And times with children with special needs have been some of the happiest times.
We often label these children as disabled, but they are more enabled in aspects that we often forget about in our daily lives, such as being there to support friends, always smiling and staying happy, and -- above all -- loving unconditionally. Yes, there are times that they get mad and frustrated but they quickly overcome this and are able to be joyful again.
During my years spent at our school for children with special needs, I witnessed one of the strongest and happiest friendships between two people I have ever seen. This young boy and girl were inseparable. They would do everything together, often holding hands together through everything they did. Despite their occasional arguments, they would quickly laugh together. It was one of those friendships that made you immediately smile when you saw it and wish that everyone could have a friendship as beautiful as theirs.
One night, Nirushan immediately awakend suddenly from his sleep and started crying out “Mary!...Mary!...” His grandma, who takes care of him, did not understand what he was crying about but tried her best to comfort him and eventually lulled him back to sleep. It was only the next morning that the town learned that Mary had passed away that very night.
This brings me to a question regarding friendship. If people put aside their selfish desires and formed happy friendships where qualms can be resolved in a few minutes, and we can set aside our expectations to support one another like Nirushan and Mary did, could we form a divine friendship? Was the special bond of friendship this boy and girl created so special that it transcended the dimensions of this world, and that Nirushan on a soul level knew when his best friend had left this material world? I will leave that question open to all of you, but I believe that we are infinitely blessed to have each other and such wonderful friends. It is up to us as well, however, to do our best to genuinely understand our friends, because with that understanding we are able to love them without setting conditions and expectations for each other. Such a friendship can become divine.