Thanks for making me cry!

Last weekend I had the pleasure and privilege of attending my Irish Catholic brother-in-law’s marriage to his Syrian Muslim wife. I’m confident that you can imagine all the potential pitfalls this entailed given the fact that the words Catholic and Muslim appear in the same sentence… let alone that Catholic and Muslim now appear in the same family… but that’s a whole other story for another day. What stuck out for me most during the wedding weekend (which to me, was a thing of beauty) occurred the night before at the wedding rehearsal.

You see most of the family, on both sides, had never met. Our side all live in Michigan. My brother-in-law, his wife and their family live in another state and we’d travelled there for the joyful occasion. As the adults all got to know each other, I was sitting with the children… eight of them nine years old or younger.

Mia, the bride’s nine-year-old niece came up and tried to speak with Erin, my seven-year-old daughter…

“Hi, my name’s Mia…”

No response.

“Hi, my name’s Mia…”

No response.

“Doesn’t she want to talk to me?”

Speaking on Erin’s behalf “Oh… it’s not that at all Mia… she can’t talk.”

“She can’t talk?”


“How come?”

Given that Mia’s Dad and Grandpa are both doctors and that “She had an ouchy…” probably wasn’t going to cut it…

“Well… she had surgery on her brain to remove a tumor and since the operation, there are some things she can’t do yet.”

Instead of doing what virtually every other person who has ever crossed paths with Erin does at that point… back off… some feeling sorry for her… most just feeling uncomfortable and wanting to get away… Mia stepped forward…

“OK… so she can’t talk… but she can play right?” and with no further ado, she grabbed Erin’s hand.

Erin didn’t know what to do… so she stepped forward… smiled… and she played… and then she kept on smiling and kept on playing all weekend long.

So whilst the weekend unfolded I was extremely grateful for the lessons that those two little girls taught me. Grateful for the opportunity to see what happens when we don’t fall prey to both our acknowledged and our blind prejudices. Grateful for the gifts that Mia gave to Erin… the gifts of acceptance and dignity.

Thanks Mia, you probably didn’t notice my eyes tear-up… what a joy seeing my little girl so happy.


Success simplified; lessons learned down a hippo's throat. Speaker, Author, Coach who will parachute in when traditional solutions won’t get it done.

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  1. Wow Paul!  What a gift that you were able to witness!  What a cool lesson.  Thanks for sharing it.  

  2. Sniff. Sniff. What a beautiful story that needs to be told over and again. I always say that children can teach us so much more than we can ever teach them. Thank you so much for sharing, and I truly hope as a motivational speaker you continue to tell this compassionate, outstanding story.

  3. Oh, wow, Paul!  That got me!  I love how Mia saw right around the initial obstacle like water flowing around a rock.  Beautiful!

  4. Ah well, Paul.  Thanks for making me cry too.  What a beautiful example of how children can so easily see past “limitations.”  They look past what CAN’T be done – to what CAN be done.  Wow.  And what a beautiful opportunity for Erin also.  Thank you so so SO much for sharing this Paul.  And yes, please do share this story in your presentations.  It makes the point so beautifully.

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