Encouragement from others who walk this Road.

by | Jun 6, 2010

One of the things that has got us through the week is the wonderful support and love from friends, family and even strangers from around the world. Messages of encouragement in smses, on Facebook, on this blog, via phone calls and emails made me realise how connected our world really is. People have been reading the blog all around SA and in far away places and sending comments and encouragement. I check several times a day to hear what you are all thinking. It has given us strength and perspective. It is a picture of the body of Christ, scattered around the world and yet connected.

One of the letters came from a couple we have not seen since we were at university together almost 19 years ago, but they sent us this letter which gave us hope and renewed our courage. I thought I would share it with you all.

 

 

Hi Debbie and Nigel

I don’t know if you remember Glenn and I from UCT – we were at His People with you. Lisa van der Linde forwarded your email to me, and I just wanted to say congratulations on the birth of your wonderful daughter. Glenn and I also have 4 kids now, and the fourth is a little girl with Downs’ Syndrome. She is now 5, and her name is Kathleen. We also had no idea that she had Downs’ before she was born, so the diagnosis was a real shock. I can vividly remember those early days when I would gaze down at her, and feel an almost physical jolt as the realisation hit me, again, that we had a baby with trisomy 21. I can also remember shopping with her, and looking at other mothers with kids her age, wishing I could feel as carefree as they looked.

I am saying all that purely to preface what I am about to tell you: 

namely that I cannot, knowing what I know now, regret the fact that Katie has Downs’. She is a delight beyond words. I went away to a tennis tournament the other day with my oldest son, which took all weekend. It is rare for me not to see Katie for so long, and when she opened the door to me on Sunday afternoon, I realised with a huge rush of love, that I am so proud of her and I really do like her very much. 

Steph, my oldest, said in the car this evening, “You know, there are compensations in having a sister with Downs’. She NEVER moans and complains and she is not demanding at all!” Glenn will actively seek her out after a hard day at work, because he says she is his stress- reliever. People warm to her wherever we go because she is so happy, welcoming and polite. She will never forget to say thank-you, even after a blood test!

 Mark and Mel Simpson (my sister and brother-in-law) are staying with us at the moment, and when they told me about Mystery, my first reaction was, honestly, “That’s so cool!” I truly believe that God has a purpose for these kids, and it is quite possible, in our case, that Katie’s purpose is to be the mainstay of our family. Most kids with Downs battle with verbal communication, but I have found that they are extremely good non-verbal communicators. If you watch carefully, they are able to orchestrate an entire family to meet their specific needs without really saying very much. And Katie is simply happy, about 95% of the time. Of all my kids, she was the easiest, and I frequently thank God that she was born last. If she were the first child, I would have been spoiled rotten and would have expected far too much from the subsequent siblings!

 I am smiling idiotically as I’m writing this, thinking of all the fun that is in store for you guys. You are absolutely right to ask everyone to celebrate with you: there is a very great deal to celebrate, The adjustment period is always hard, however, especially in the beginning, and I think it is quite right to mourn the loss of the child you thought you would have. After Katie was born, I had a huge cry in the shower at the hospital, all because I was thinking that I would probably never see her walk down the aisle of a church in a wedding dress. Maybe not. But you simply have to shift perspectives, and learn to value things that might pass you by in your other kids, like when she gets her tongue around the word “cucumber” for the first time,  or when she starts to write her name following the dots you have traced for her.

 I know that you will have to forge your own approach as a family to dealing with Mystery’s diagnosis. I think every family is different, and you will probably do things for Mystery in a way that is tailored to your family dynamic. Katie, for instance, is really sporty, and it is probably because our other kids are in performance squads for various sports, and she follows suit. I know of a boy in Italy whose family are all mathematicians, and he is able to do calculus, because the entire family breathes, eats and sleeps maths. I think Mystery will augment, rather than detract or distract from, all you do as a family.

 So…… heartfelt congratulations to you both! I can honestly say that you can be thankful to God for having entrusted you with one of his most precious gifts!

Lots of love

Kerry Wilson

 

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