For years I’ve been visiting new parents whose children are born suspected of having Down syndrome. I had an early visit planned for this morning, however, something didn’t go as expected and my child had to stay with me because he wasn’t feeling well. I didn’t know if it was appropriate to take him with me or if it would be overwhelming to new families to take a look at their future without yet having the chance to digest their present moment. Because Emir is an amazing and polite guy, I thought there was no better way to show them that there is nothing to be scared about.
So, with my co-pilot by my side, I drove to the Naples Birth Place, the same place where he was born more than 12 years ago. On our 45 minutes trip, I started talking to Emir about his birth, how beautiful and confusing everything was. And without even noticing it, I started sobbing. I looked at him and I told him, “I’m sorry for all the tears, Emir. I just love you so much that I can’t help myself from going back to those moments when I didn’t know what to expect of life. But you deserve all the smiles in the world because you are amazing.” He smiled and kissed my hand, holding it tight.
I parked and we left the car. Right in front of the entrance, he said: “Take me a happy picture right here, mom.” And, I started tearing up again. The moment your child proves to you one more time that there is something bigger, wiser and sacred about him that no one else would be able to explain, until you live it on your own. Until you love him with so much strength and devotion that you are able to live and see things that no one else can. The perfect moment when he leads you to create a new memory: a new, happy and incredible one full of ability and possibility.
He stood in front of the hospital while I took the picture. He smiled with his heart and in his eyes I saw the magic. We walked into the hospital to talk to the family, and when I saw them, with a smile pumping out from my heart, I told them, “This is Emir, my son. He’s the most amazing person I’ve ever known. I would like to be able to put in words how much I love him and how proud I am of him, but I can’t. This is a feeling you’ll get to experience on your own. One day those tears of confusion will turn into tears of joy, and you’ll be happy and you’ll go back to the day he was born just to realize how amazing life has been to you all.”
The truth is that as parents of children with special needs, we would like with our own experience to avoid others those moments of confusion. However, and in the end, we all need to go through every stage in order to grow along with our children, and write our own stories while we strengthen our own beliefs and set our own goals as a family.
There is always time to go back to the day your child was born to relive those moments by holding the hand of the most important and inspiring person you know. An individual who has shown you and taught you that life is just an amazing opportunity to overcome your fears and learn to celebrate life to its fullest: your own child.