Writing about experiences with our Down syndrome son has been a pleasure for me but this month I felt some difficulty because writing about this alone makes it seem like it is all that defines us. I must let the reader know that there is so much more going on in our house than Down syndrome . . . think of having a toddler in the house whose moods and habits are in and through all the household traffic, but the traffic itself is not all about the toddler.
If you want to use the word “normal” that’s pretty much what it is around here. We do loads of other things, like yesterday we had to juggle schedules and ask a friend to help out getting our son to the high school choir photo shoot. Just like all the other moms I had to organize the clothes and make sure he didn’t forget anything because I couldn’t be there. All the kids had fun getting dressed up and running across the street to the park. All the kids had smiles on their faces – and you can see the smile starting its typical delayed burst across the face of my son; he had as much fun as they all did. When our family came together at home later we ordered pizza for dinner even though there was food in the house, because time and energy were both gone. Teenager on the computer, Dad organizing his schedule for tomorrow, Mom sorting through mail . . . evening spent! What could be more normal than that?
I could have written another post about how there are pros and cons to Down syndrome, and we choose to look at the pros, but I hope that’s become obvious by now. What isn’t obvious perhaps is that the majority of our lives aren’t spent in thinking about that. There was a time when every time I laid eyes on my son the words “down syndrome” would skirt through my mind. Those days are so long gone that I can’t even tell you when it stopped happening. Like writing about it I suppose, it probably stopped happening when I just finally had to break loose and say “There’s more to life than that!” There are things in our life that have nothing to do with Down syndrome. I guess I just needed you to know that, and so for this month I have decided to share with you a children’s story I wrote some years ago that is completely off topic. It bridges the seasons we are in now but to me it is mostly about happiness and hope for all people in all the world.
Heavenly Father told us that to become like Jesus we would need to leave our heavenly home with Him and go to live on earth. Our spirit would be joined with a physical body and we could have a chance to learn more perfectly.
We knew that once our spirit lived in a body, things would be very different. Exciting and wonderful, yes, but sometimes we could get hurt. Heavenly Father would make our bodies so they could heal – but we would also have to do our part to take care of them. When we got a scraped knee we’d need to wash it, perhaps bandage it, and maybe have a lollipop!
We wondered about our spirits inside. What if there are things that hurt our spirits? Heavenly Father explained that someone would need to do some extra work to make it possible for our spirits to feel whole from pain and injury. Jesus offered to be the one to do that work, but we would also have to do our part to care for our spirits too.
Sometimes a prayer to our Heavenly Father could put our spiritual pains behind us. For some, talking to a bishop would help out. Sometimes we’d feel better by having a treat like serving others to make us both happy, or someone might be sent to serve us.
During Jesus Christ’s days on earth he would learn and teach and there would also be a time when he would feel the very pains and worries that each one of us would one day have. That way He could understand and help us when we needed to heal something that might hurt our spirit.
There would be as many ways to soothe souls as there would be people and troubles, but Jesus would know them all.
When we were complete by having our spirits clean and whole, we could go back to live with our Father in Heaven again. And be with all our friends and family there. We were so happy that Jesus offered this!
We saw that when His turn came to be born to the earth it would be the beginning of helping us to have the very things we wanted most. Though we all knew Jesus’ extra work would be very hard, He loved us so much that He wanted to do it. Because Heavenly Father loved us so much He was willing to let Jesus take on the work. We felt humble that they would offer the sacrifice of allowing heartache and pain into their own lives to give us this gift of healing.
Then the day came for Jesus to be born into His time on earth. We were so happy! We couldn’t even stop ourselves from singing happy songs!
We all felt joy because we knew Jesus would finish His work no matter how hard it would be. We loved Jesus and Mary and Joseph so much for making this happen for us. So we sang them songs to make them happy on Jesus’ first day on earth.
People brought gifts to honor Jesus for the gift He was going to give us. And Heavenly Father’s most precious gift to the world was given on that day too – – when He sent His strong son to begin His mighty work. Now, at what we call Christmastime, we remember the reason for all the worlds’ joy, and celebrate the day He became a small boy.”
These are the kinds of things in my mind that supersede Down syndrome. To bridge the seasons again let me just say that it is easy for me to take the counsel to “live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.” (Alma 34:38) because I know what it feels like to have pains and fears lifted – – to literally feel like the destroying angel is passing over me. I know what it is like to feel absolute peace when that wouldn’t appear to be possible. I am so thankful for that. God has offered all people the same easing for all burdens; it is through His son who knows how to lift them.