As was mentioned yesterday, October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. In honor of the occasion, guest blogger Ellen Stumbo wrote a two part series about how she reacted when her daughter was diagnosed with the syndrome. In Part 1, she described her initial reaction to the diagnosis. In Part 2, she shows how she adjusted to and embraced the different road her daughter would travel.

Down Syndrome Awareness: A Different Road, Part 2

I realized I was screaming. My sobs came from deep within my soul, and the anguish echoed around me. Yet, no one heard me. I felt totally and utterly…alone. I was lost.

After a while, the tears had been drained from my body. Without their constant veil, I was able to see more clearly, and a glimpse of light peered straight ahead. My heart started beating fast as I allowed myself to hope. I dragged my feet through the mud, I climbed over the branches, I held my breath, and I pushed the heavy vines out of my way.

A burst of light blinded me. I rubbed my eyes and slowly opened them. And here, in this path, there too was a gate. There was nothing spectacular about the gate; it wasn’t fancy, and it was certainly not impressive. It was a simple wooden entrance, with a wide open door. Yet, it was so inviting, so peaceful, so comforting. My heart was immediately drawn to it. Without hesitation, I walked through.

The beauty stunned me. The air was deliciously refreshing and the trees seemed to touch the sky. The sound of birds reached my ears. It was not a common bird song; it was music of the soul. The melody was so beautiful that it welled up inside me and I thought I might burst with joy! The flowers were unlike anything an ordinary person could imagine. If anyone were to make a bouquet with these, there would be no worthy recipient to be found, except for God Himself. And the colors, oh the colors! These shades could only be found in Heaven…and on this road. I paused. What I saw before me was magnificent. I felt humbled. This road was paved with glimpses of God. My heart was overflowing.

I knew I would be taking this road at a slower pace, there was hardly a defined path. We would be facing the wilds as we made our way through. Every step would be a new discovery that would reach all my senses. Things would take longer here, but that would make them more meaningful. I knew, that as I witnessed miracles, I would not dismiss them as natural and expected milestones. I smiled.

I realized then, that God was standing by me. He had been with me all along. Somehow, in my tears and anguish, I had lost sight of Him. I fell to my knees. He knelt down beside me and grabbed my face. He gently cupped it in His hands. He looked at me tenderly, “Certainly, this road will not always be easy, and you might not see me, but I will be with you in every step. And your heart? It will forever be changed; for this child will touch you in ways you didn’t know were possible. Your understanding and experience of life and of My love will never be the same. I gave you this child, because you needed her, and she needed you.”

He took me by the hand and helped me to my feet. With a grin on His face that made His eyes sparkle He added, “I love you, and I give good gifts to those I love. This child that I have given to you is mine, my beloved one, and a vessel of my love.”

I stared into the open, unknown space before me, allowing myself to feel the warmth of my baby girl as I held her close. She would lead the way. I wanted to begin the journey. I lifted my foot and started walking. Walking into the wildness and beauty of the road.

Need Some Tissues?

Oops, I forgot to tell you to get some tissues before reading Part 2 of Ellen’s series. Take all the time you need to compose yourself. Then, thing about how you have adjusted to life as the parent of a beloved child with special needs. Imagine how your experience could encourage a parent who just received a diagnosis and leave a comment if you like.

And thank you, Ellen, for sharing your heart with us. Because of you, there’s not a dry eye at this house.

Part One

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