Monday, March 21, 2011
Today is World Down Syndrome Day!
I've written and re-written a post about 100 times today. I'm sure many of the people who read this blog can relate to my difficulties in writing on such an emotional day. Really, where do I begin? Do I write about the personal journey my family has had with Down syndrome; a journey that began nearly 14 years ago? Do I write about Paige herself, and the incredible young lady she has grown into? Do I write about the many, many other children and adults with Down syndrome that I have come to know, and how each one of them has offered me beautiful and unique insight into life? Do I write about the not-so-happy stories, of children in other countries, who are cast aside, left to die, or perhaps even worse, sent to institutions where they will live out their lives never having known the love of a real family? And, of course, with that, goes the staggering statistics of our own "civilized" world - where in North America, some estimations are that nearly 8 out of 10 women who find out their unborn child has Down syndrome will chose to end that child's life, rather than welcome it into the world?
But, today is a day of celebration. And celebrate we should. As you can imagine, those of us who have been welcomed into this world of Down syndrome, through the birth or adoption of a child, or the addition of a new family member, or a friend's baby, or even though our interactions with an adult with Down syndrome in our community - today, well, we celebrate; we offer good wishes to one another. We smile that knowing little smile that allows us to tell one another that we get it - we understand how it feels to have your heart open just a little wider - your joy-cup runneth over, and oh, how glorious that feels.
Today, I celebrate Paige, and her amazing life, and her amazing capacity to love, and find wonder in the world. I can't get enough of this child. My heart bursts open every single morning when she is still sleepy and full of hugs, and it fills with laughter when she points her finger at me, very seriously, and says my name, telling me so very much with that small gesture.
And through her, and my love for her, my eyes have been opened to a whole world of people with Down syndrome. Its like a force-field, a magnetic draw that pulls me in - where my best fantasies involve being able to spend all my days in a room full of children with Down syndrome - learning and growing, and shooting for the stars. Oh, how we would celebrate when one of those stars were caught! I imagine my world to be aligned just so, just right so I could visit Reese's Rainbow, and bring a few children home, to fill my rooms and my heart to overflowing with 21st chromosomes.
People with Down syndrome are as unique and diverse in their abilities and desires as people with the typical number of chromosomes are. Some will soar, and run, screaming into the world, "Here I am!! Watch me go!" And others will do it a little slower, a little more quietly, tentatively feeling their way into a world that is sometimes a little scary, a little too big.
Today is a day of celebration indeed.
I love someone with Down syndrome.
I love a lot of someone's with Down sydnrome.