The mother asked people not to write hateful messages or judge people before actually knowing what they are going through.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 22, 2021. It has since been updated.
The mom of a terminally ill child was furious after she found a hateful note on the windshield of her car, accusing her of stealing the parking spot reserved for disabled people at a hospital. Emma Doherty's child Bobby has gone through countless operations and spent half his life in intensive care. She elaborated on her child's condition on Facebook and replied to the nasty message, reminding people that all disabilities are not visible. Doherty asked people not to write passive-aggressive hateful messages or judge people before actually knowing what they are going through. She found the hateful message on her car when they visited the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, England, reported HuffPost.
We would do well to give them the benefit of the doubt, especially if they have a disabled sticker and tag on the car. Emma Doherty was shocked by the vitriol in the message on her windshield. "You lazy conning b-tch. You did not have a disabled person with you! These spaces are reserved for people who need them!!!" read the message. Doherty's message dispels misconceptions about disabilities and helps break the stigma that all impairments are visible. In Bobby's case, his condition has left him without pulmonary artery function, which means that blood will not pump throughout his body. This makes walking long distances or performing physical tasks otherwise impossible.
"To the person who put this on my car, which I had put my disabled badge fully on, I'm not angry at your pure ignorance, I'm actually upset with it. How dare you ever accuse anyone of not needing a disabled badge without knowing. I wish you had the b*lls to say this to my face and I would have told you (even though I don't need to explain myself to the likes of you) but I'd have happily said why I have a badge," she added.
She spoke about the severity of her son's illness and the multiple surgeries that he's had to go through. Doherty added that she was hoping the person who wrote the hateful message eventually gets to read what she posted. "I promise to get the stigma away from people with disabled badges who don't "look disabled." I hope this gets shared and back to you and you will see my son is terminally ill, he's had over 15 operations, three open hearts, two stomach, a lung, and a diaphragm operation, and countless artery stenting operations, and spent half his life on intensive care. He's had 2 strokes and was paralyzed, brain-damaged, and has a spine and hip condition as well as a massive heart condition.
The boy's mother also said she was in a hurry because she had medical appointments to keep. "The reason I didn't get his wheelchair out was because I was running late because my son, who had an MRI scan, a CT SCAN, and a dye for heart function yesterday, only got discharged late and was back in this morning so carried him in. I've sat through things nobody should see but why did your note break me? Because it's your pure ignorance towards others. I'm a single mom trying my best to hold it together for my son who's in and out of the hospital. NOT ALL DISABILITIES ARE VISIBLE and I hope you regret doing this and learn your lesson!"
Doherty added that it was not the first time she and her child has got looks, with people muttering behind them, as they walked to the car. She said it was incredibly hurtful for people to assume from just looks. "Everyone needs to stop and think before acting. As for conning my son's disabled pass... [It] is not a con, he's actually seriously ill. I've added a picture of him to prove not everyone looks ill or disabled but can be seriously ill," she said, attaching a picture of her with her Bobby.
Her post went viral and many other disabled people including parents of disabled children had kind words for her. They thanked her, pointing out that there are different kinds of disabilities and that not all of them are visible or apparent. Many parents who find themselves in similar situations also lamented the lack of sensitivity from people.
Bobby is back to school and loving it
Bobby is doing well now and has returned to school with Coronavirus restrictions being eased in the UK. "After nine months of shielding, nine months of home-schooling, and 9 months away from his friends Bobby's gone back to school," wrote Doherty on Facebook earlier this year. She also added that a smaller headcount in class will help him. "It's perfect timing for Bobby going back to school, his class is 80% smaller so he will be less anxious as he gradually transitions back into school," she added.
She has since posted pictures dressed up as a lion for School day. Doherty believes a return to normalcy will help him. "He's forgotten how to play, won't speak to even family now only me and he was struggling with everyday life after being shielded so long, He needed some normality. If his consultant he's had all his life says he will be OK then I take his word, I've trusted every decision he's ever made. Also, I know the school will look after him," wrote Doherty, adding that he's happy to be back at school and among his friends. You can follow Bobby's journey through Bobbysbravery, a Facebook page updated by his mother.