This weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving, a wonderful sun-filled, blue-skied, red maple-leaved weekend. So a good time to start joining in the Thankful Tuesday parties over at Micha Boyett’s blog Mama: Monk. While Micha has no connection that I know of to Down syndrome, I love her blog, her writing, her honesty and poetry, and her blogging practices that bring us closer to the daily divine.
And since Jessie has herself brought me closer to the daily divine (if only through my need to meditate daily to first, advocate for inclusion during her school years, and now, negotiate through her transition into adulthood, which is like a dehydrated version of the terrible twos—less pliable and more intensely flavoured) and since this is part of the 31 for 21 blog celebration, I thought I would start with the ways in which I am thankful for all that this extra chromosome has brought into my life.
I am thankful for the way knowing and loving someone with Down syndrome has transformed my life and led me closer to God by cracking open the fragile shell of completeness, perfection, and independence to let in the light of wholeness, healing, and community. For the way in which this cracking is never finished, never done, but always process, always now, and always always love.
I am thankful for the way that being the parent of a child with a disability has sometimes pushed me to the margins, to the outside, where I have met and been changed by those who live there—either for a time or forever. And how Jessie’s valued presence—at school, at the Foodbank, at the college, on the bus, at church, at the library—makes all these places more welcoming and open to all.
I am thankful for myriad wise and brave people, young and old, who have accompanied us on this journey. Those who shout justice, make muffins, laugh with abandon, love recklessly, sing eloquently, paddle through whitecaps, quilt with castoffs, know their own brokenness, build community, and are willing to catch us when we fall. All have become part of the tapestry of our life because of Jessie, and I do not know what warmth there would be in our world without them.
I am thankful for Jessie showing me how we are all God’s hands in the world—but we are conduits, not controllers. And how acting out of love and doing what seems right might not have the immediate or intended pay-off, but it will, like a pebble, send out ripples that can change a life, a community, and perhaps even the world.
At its most basic, on this crazy mixed up thanksgiving weekend where nothing went as planned—road trips and family dinners canceled due to severe bronchitis, root canals, and kidney stones (modern day versions, perhaps, of the more biblical serpents, pestilence, plagues?) made me thankful for:
- Church, where Jessie and I fought for the first 10 minutes of the walk over, then tolerated each other silently the rest of the way, but put our arms around each other, swayed and sang loudly and gloriously off key to Now Thank We All Our God. Church, where we are given the gift of a new beginning again, and again, and again, if needs be.
- Maple bacon donuts from Suzie Qs at the Brewer Farmers market that are the perfect complement to a what-the-hell-lets-just-have-fun kind of spontaneous day.
- Daughters with no sense of time or circumstance who can blithely, at midnight, just after depositing fathers at the emergency room to deal with kidney stones, head up to bed with a ukulele, intending to serenade tired mothers to sleep.
- And finally, the Harts, always the Harts, who invited our forlorn trio (Jessie, and Dan, and I) over for Thanksgiving dinner and fed us turkey and loved us and laughed with us and made us family all over again.