I can't believe I missed this, but it's better late than never.
March 21st was World Down Syndrome Day. This is the first year that the United Nations is recognizing this date. For me, for many, that is super exciting news.
My youngest brother, Jonathan, has Down syndrome. He is one of the best parts of my life, hands down. In fact, I might even say the best part of my life, but I don't want the other best parts of my life to get jealous.
The National Down Syndrome Society is looking to raise awareness and support of individuals with Down syndrome. It's taken me some time, but I'm pretty sure this might also be part of my life calling. As I was growing up, my mom would tell me I should work with children with special needs. Upon such a notion I would instantly say no, explaining that it would simply be too emotional for me.
Maybe sometimes we need to grasp things that cause us to be emotional, rather than run away from them.
I'm a firm believer that God puts specific things in our lives for reasons unique to who we are as individuals. Jonathan is in my life because I needed him. In fact, I need him a lot more than he needs me.
Everyday I marvel at who he is becoming. As I try to mother him, I get smacked in the face with the realization of how independent he is learning to be. Each day I learn more and more about the way he thinks, I see how his brain works, and recognize that he has so much to say and give to the world if the world would only give him a chance.
When I introduce Jonathan to someone or talk about him to someone who does not know him, I recognize how limited the world's knowledge on individuals with Down syndrome is. One of the first questions people will ask is, "Does he talk?". A legitimate question indeed, considering there are those who cannot, but an unfair question due to the amount of individuals with Down syndrome who can. Yes, he can talk. He can talk a lot. But, you have to be patient and selfless in order to get the answers you want.
And when that happens, I realize that his abilities have the possibility to soar to amazing heights that I once thought unreachable.
And perhaps, in all this, my part is to spread the word. To make others aware of how awesome someone with Down syndrome can be, if you allow them to be.
(Jonathan at his Special Olympics swimming competition, March 2012.)