Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.
Ok, so I'm cheating just a little bit. The prompt today is Dream; we're supposed to write for five minutes and then stop. My problem is, I've thought about this prompt before, in life. I don't think I'm wrong to suppose that we've all had dreams, dreams that change, dreams that are forgotten in years of living, years of making the best of, years of other priorities. We've been told to follow our dreams, to reach for our dreams, to dream big and to dream on. We've been told what we should dream, what we could dream, and how to interpret our dreams. We've wanted our dreams to come true, like fairytale wishes. All of us. Dreaming about so many things. And for many, our dreams grow and mature - they encompass more than just ourselves. They include our family, our children and spouses. They include our country. They include our world.
So this is the cheat. I've written for almost five minutes, but I also want to share. My daughter just turned 24 a month ago. I still remember how her birth and diagnosis of Down syndrome rocked my perfect world, how my hopes and dreams for my child were changed, shifted, blown away. Hope deferred... But I didn't remain heartsick - God had different plans. Following is an excerpt from a book-in-the-making about my daughter. Well, really about how raising Sierra has changed my life. The Very-Do Adventure is a description of the journey -
The road goes ever on and on down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone, and I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet, until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet. And wither then I cannot say.
I am in the office, thinking about the past 23 years. Sierra is in the other room, exercising. I hear the music and I picture her, eyes focused on the video following the steps of an on-screen avatar. That birthday of hers is almost here and I am remembering doctor visits, therapies, early intervention, Individualized Education Plans. I reflect on decisions made, on scaffolding, on choices. There are differences between parenting a child with extra needs and a typically developing child, but the similarities outweigh those differences. Great strides have been made in quality of life, education, health, and acceptance of our differently-abled population.
Almost twenty-three years on this very-do adventure.
I am in the office, thinking about my wishes and hopes for my girl, for the people around her, for parents and families who are new to the parenting adventure, parents and families with typical and extraordinary journeys ahead. I think big thoughts that float and glitter like giant, helium-filled mylar balloons on parade. Balloons that proclaim Universal Hopes and Dreams. I think beyond Down syndrome.
I hope that my daughter will be safe from any who want to take advantage of her. I hope she continues to search for and find purpose. I hope that others, parents, families and communities learn as much from their sons or daughters, as I have from mine. I wish them joy in the journey.
I wish that being 'special' wasn't an automatic label based on a diagnosis. My daughter has EARNED the description of special based on her unique personality, her unique outlook, her unique actions.
I wish there weren’t disappointments in the disability, but rather celebrations in the ability. I wish, like Chris Burke, it could be called Up Syndrome.
I hope that people take time and effort to get to know my girl. I hope they take time and effort to get past the challenges of understanding her speech, past her conversation loops, her need to please, her drama moments. I hope they discover her sense of humor, her empathy, her distinctive intelligence, spirituality and joy. I hope they appreciate the journey.
I hope she experiences true, unconditional friendship. I hope she experiences Relationship (with a capital ‘R’). Active, vibrant, caring relationship. Beyond family.
"It is my birthday, next week. Are you scared?”
Done exercising and back to her favorite topic, my daughter interrupts my thoughts.
“No, Sweetie, not scared,” I fold her Zumba’d body in my arms. I blink back warm tears of hope and love, turn away from the computer and focus on my soon-to-be birthday girl. “I am incredibly blessed.”
Linking with Five-Minute Friday