How 30 Blocks Became 30 Years


Brian Rea

When Mary Lois and I started our relationship on that humid night in Stamford, Conn., we may not have expected it to last. After all, I was unable to scratch my own nose, let alone walk. And she was three years older than me and far more independent.

I asked if I could kiss her. I had to ask because I couldn’t lean in on my own; my body doesn’t work that way.

So she leaned in and kissed me as I had never been kissed before.

“You were just a kid,” she told me recently.

I was 19. She wore her straight auburn hair in a short boy-cut then. More than 30 years later, she still does, though the color has faded. I wasn’t only attracted to her iconoclastic spirit, alluring eyes and figure; I was on a mission to lose my virginity.

I was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a congenital, progressive, incurable neuromuscular condition, but my lifelong disability has never prevented me from doing anything I set my mind to. I was one of the first quadriplegic students to matriculate at Harvard. And spinal muscular atrophy wasn’t going to keep me from having a girlfriend, getting married or having a family.

Source: The New York Times