Mason was about eight months old when I met someone who changed my perspective on Down syndrome. I have relived this story countless times since, and have been waiting for the perfect moment to share it in writing. There are some things that I want to cling to in my heart, tuck away as secrets in my soul somehow; those things will never be shared in my writing. But, this story is one I can’t keep from you. So, today, on World Down Syndrome Day, I want to share with you a precious moment I experienced with my son.
It was December and we were in Greenville, SC, visiting with some friends right before Christmas. My husband has long-time connections in Greenville, including the church that sent his family out as missionaries. I don’t know many people in this church, but they know us, and love our family. We happened to be in town on a Sunday, so we decided to visit the church that day. Being in a place where you are known is always a gift. We encountered people in the halls, received warm hugs, and caught up with many who had played significant roles in my husband’s life.
At the end of the morning, as we were collecting our three children from the nursery, a dear lady stopped us in the hall. I had been wanting to see her ever since Mason was born.
You see, she knows. She understands what it’s like to raise a boy with Down syndrome. And from what I had heard from my in-laws, she has done it well. We hugged and I didn’t want to let go. I wanted her to hold my hand and walk me through the life that I was living, one that I didn’t understand, one that brought fear and uncertainty, and one that I had only just begun to truly accept.
We both stepped back and she reached for Mason. Then, she said, “Oh, you have to meet David. He’ll want to hold Mason.”
David, at the time, was 28 years old. While I had heard of him and his family, I’d never met or spoken with him. He and Bradley exchanged hugs and high fives, and recounted memories from growing up. It was precious to watch, and there was so much that encouraged me from their conversation.
Then, David’s mom handed Mason to David to hold. She grabbed onto David’s arm and said, “David, this is Mason. Mason has Down syndrome.”
Do you know what David said? This 28 year old man with Down syndrome? As he held my precious eight month old son in one arm, he put his other arm up in the air and said, “YES! THAT’S AWESOME!”
We all laughed and as I stood there grinning and holding back tears, my perspective changed.
I had been living with an assumption that Mason would have a hard life, one of struggle and maybe even one that he didn’t understand. I guess through grieving the loss of a dream in what I had expected for his life, I had been focusing on the negative aspects of special needs. It is hard, and there will be challenges to come.
But here I was, face to face with someone who had walked this road, and he thought it was awesome.
David’s reaction said several things to me. First of all, he understood. He was aware of his difference. Secondly, it didn’t matter to him. In fact, he found it wonderful and wanted others to be on that same journey. Third, there are countless blessings about Down syndrome, both for the ones who have it and for those who are impacted by them.
I walked away from that encounter a different person. I was able to look at my son with eyes of hope and celebration, realizing that he probably would understand one day, but that would be okay.
It’s been over two years since that encounter and you know what? Most days I don’t even think about the fact that Mason has Down syndrome. He’s my son. A little boy who loves cars, trains, airplanes, and Superheroes. He likes to wrestle, be tickled, and tease his sisters. He’s mischievous, ornery at times, and loves to laugh.
Everything about my son is a gift from God, and God is the Giver of good gifts.
Shortly after I met David, his mom sent me a copy of David’s testimony that he had shared to some students at a Christian school, where David works. I wanted to share a portion of it here for you:
“My favorite Bible character is Joseph. He had the same God as I do. His brothers sold him into slavery and he was taken to Egypt to become a servant of Potiphar. After living in Egypt for many years he met his brothers who had been so mean to him. Joseph did not get upset . He said,”As for you, you meant if for evil against me, but God meant it for good to bring it about that many people should be alive as they are today.” Gen. 50:20….
In 8th grade I realized I was a sinner, and I couldn’t get rid of my sins. I asked God to forgive my sins. He gave his own son to take my sin away. I told my Dad I needed to get saved “BIG TIME!” and he prayed with me to trust Jesus. I’ve been trusting Jesus for 13 years.
God saved Joseph from the pit, and He saved me from my sin. Some people think that Down Syndrome is not good, but “God meant it for good” for me, my family, and the rest of you.”
Happy World Down Syndrome Day!
For your reading pleasure, here are my posts from World Down Syndrome Day from the past two years:
2014:: When You Wonder What to Say