Saturday, March 7, 2015

Happy Birthday My Son

When a child has a birthday, there is always that sort of bittersweet feeling of time gone by, of watching those once tiny people growing into their own, becoming individuals that are part you and part something that is theirs alone. When a child with Down Syndrome has a birthday, the experience is that plus more. It's surreal, kind of, because the day is spent celebrating while continuously looking back to that day when a child comes into the world and you are handed news that you didn't expect. I remember being very sad that day, angry that I couldn't celebrate, scared that I couldn't do it. But today, as I think back over the past 22 years, it's not the scary parts that jump into my head first;  it's the milestones that I remember. That raised alabaster scar on Jared's chest becomes a badge telling the world that he is a fighter and survivor.  The kids that teased him or avoided him are blocked out by the faces of Jared's friends, mentors, and family, the ones who love him without question, but push him towards what they know he can be.  The words he couldn't read slip away, blocked out by the song he wrote and sings to his girlfriend.  The picture of a young mother crying in Jared's nursery is shadowed by the woman who will slip into her party dress tonight to attend a gala in honor of all those with Down Syndrome who have made it their mission to thrive in spite of heart murmurs, mean words, and a disability that sometimes makes it difficult to figure things out in this world.
So, happy birthday, Jared. There are incredible events and moments ahead of you that we can't even begin to imagine, I'll bet. And I look forward to those moments, but they are yours Jared; so I will stand back now. You don't need me to hold your arm or push you forward anymore, but I will be still here, even if when I look up, it is your back I see, walking away with YOUR friends into YOUR life. I just ask that you look back and wave once in awhile.