My Long Life Story

This is the longer story of who I am. It’s just like a detailed introduction.

My name is Meriah.

I went through the windshield of  a car when I was 4 years old. My face is covered with scars, I sustained brain injury.

I am also deaf. Little “d” deaf, which means that while I can hear, it’s crunchy. Some sounds I can’t hear at all, others I can hear very well. I’m not a fluent signer. I am a fierce lip reader.

I was raised abroad as a missionary child. I left home to go to Japan when I was 15 – as an exchange student – and never really went back.

I bumbled along in my own way, trying to make sense of moving in and out of cultures, reconciling feelings about religion and “deep thoughts” on the nature of our existence. I was a depressed anorexic/bulimic chain smoking alcoholic Tokyo bar-dancing party girl for the better part of a decade.

And then a few things happened:

– I met the love of my life. I got pregnant. I quit the alcohol, partying, cigarettes –

Sobered on up, I was still trying to live up to some ideal of the “American dream” and what it means to be “solid” and “responsible” and all of those things. I was working hard and bending backwards at my job when the second big thing happened:

– my second child was diagnosed with diffuse fetal hydrops, given a chance like “0%” at living past birth. She was also diagnosed with Down syndrome and we were encouraged to abort her.

This challenged every one of my notions of what it means to be a disability advocate, of what it means to be deaf and proud. Of mothering.

We kept our daughter, we named her Moxie when she was born, against all the odds, a perfectly healthy and vital child with Down syndrome.

Stirred but not shaken, the third big thing happened to me:

Some placenta was left in me after Moxie’s homebirth. I was paralyzed by it a month later, and began a long, slow process of fully recovering.

I quit my job.

We left the Bay Area to travel the Pan American Highway and find a place to set up an Inn. Well, while still only in Mexico, my brother Dana invited us to come north and farm with him on the Lost Coast of California. We looked it up and it sounded awesome – plus, my brother and I have always been close.

We turned around and headed back.

We were farming for some 3 years, figuring out how to live off the grid – in a yurt, no less! – when my brother was shot in a random, violent and senseless robbery in which he was the victim. He died after 3 weeks in a coma.

We are still on the Lost Coast, where I teach part time, serve on various disability-related organizational boards, work as a writer, photographer and always, always, a mother.