Wow. I am amazed, awed, and inspired by the outpouring of love and support my family has received. I recently posted this blog on my Facebook page. I was nervous because it was my first public acknowledgment of Eli’s diagnosis (besides on the Baby Center ‘Down Syndrome Pregnancy’ board). I wasn’t worried that people would be hurtful or rude. I was worried that people would feel sorry for us or be sad that our baby wasn’t going to be “perfect” (although I now believe our baby is perfectly what God intended him to be!). I didn’t want people’s comments to take me back to that overwhelming sadness we felt in the first moments/month after the diagnosis. I shouldn’t have fretted. I should have known better. The people I’m friends with on Facebook are friends from elementary school, junior high, high school, my one year of college. Friends that I’ve met through other friends, former co-workers, neighbors, family, and new people that I’ve connected with through this journey. Some friends I talk to daily, others I haven’t talked to in 20 years. The thing about it is, a true friend should always be a friend. A true friend is there to offer encouragement or a kind word when times are tough. No doubt about it, times are tough. My life has hit a bit of a rough patch. But, with supportive friends, family, and acquaintances, I will not travel down this road alone.
I have had the rare opportunity to gain perspective on some of my friendships. I am so lucky to have remained close to my same group of friends for 20+ years. Most in that group have rallied around me with offers of prayers, love, and support. Others have virtually disappeared. No phone call, text, email – nothing. At first I thought it was maybe because they didn’t know what to say to me. Then I realized that couldn’t be it. If you’re friends with someone for that long, you don’t need to know what to say. You are just there. To offer a hug. Say a prayer. Give a damn. I have been given a glimpse into the future. I have an idea who will still be my friends in 20 more years and who may not be. It’s sad, but it also may be a blessing.
I take it personally. I feel like my child is being rejected. The mama bear in me says that’s not ok. The last words I’ve spoken to a few of my friends was, “our baby has Down syndrome”. I never heard from them again. It’s been two months. I’m sorry to have turned this into a bit of a rant. I just saw such an outpouring of love and kindness from people I haven’t talked to in many, many years (as well as a couple of complete strangers!) that it became unacceptable and totally heartbreaking to me that a couple of “friends” have disappeared in all this. People keep telling me how many great new friends I’ll make on this journey. I didn’t realize I’d lose a couple of old friends along the way.
My son may have an extra chromosome than those of ‘typical’ children. That does not make him a monster. It may take him longer to walk and talk and throw a ball but he WILL do these things. And me and my friends will be there every step of the way encouraging him on to his next achievement.
To end this I’ll quote the classic tv show, Golden Girls: “Thank you for being a friend, traveled down the road and back again. Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant”.
Thank you friends, new and old. Walk by my side and I’ll never leave yours. xoxo