You know, MaQuettia, my black girlfriend.
I spoke with Hank, the old man who sells insurance.
Love my new co-worker. He's gay.
And on and on.
It is common among those with mental or physical disabilities to carry a host of labels. I still believe they are used for clarification. Let's hope. I smiled when seeing a sweet child in a cute promo for Down syndrome awareness. "Hey, it's only an extra chromosome." True, and we are more alike than different. Another campaign phrase I embrace.
You will not find a more compassionate and loving friend than a person with DS. I remember once when my grandkids were very young. Rhett is younger brother to Ryleigh by two years. They were in my care and he came to find me, eyes red with tears and holding up his hand. He had pinched it while playing with their toys. I took him into my lap and held him while he cried it out. Ryleigh stood before me offering him comfort, herself crying and saying, "Poor Rhett." I asked her why she was crying. Her look was painful and sad. "Rhett hurt his finger." Our translation - she was feeling his pain.
These are the friends I cling to and hope for. Those that walk alongside and are willing to feel my pain. Much like Ryleigh, they do not always offer words and solutions. They offer caring hugs and warmth. When smiles eventually surface, they smile with a joy I can feel. I'm happy so they are happy.
This is a subhead on my ministry cards. Whatever He gives me to do in the care of others, I do with great joy. I'm blessed with friends and family who share this desire, and none more fully than Ryleigh.
We recently watched church t.v. together after my overnight stay. No cell phone to distract, the girl participates with the service. During the final minutes, we joined in the worship and lifted our hands for the closing prayer and blessing. Ryleigh looked over at me and began talking about her two best friends. She repeated segments of her favorite movie, "Son of God," and how Jesus died for them. "The blood of Jesus, Mimi, for Morgan and Tyler. We love God." No dry eyes for me then, and even now as I write. I once overheard her on the phone with Morgan as they watched t.v. together. Ryleigh in her room and Morgan at home in hers. Very sweet. Before hanging up, they prayed together. Morgan is also special needs though not DS. I absolutely felt that I was experiencing a holy moment when angels were around. They get it. They believe. They care for what He cares for.
I found a list of My Wishes that Ryleigh penned. Sounds like a typical teen. Sounds like most of us so many years ago. Here are a few.
I wish to be popular
I wish to wear pink high heels (favorite color)
I wish to have a boyfriend
I wish to make Blue Blazes (drill team)
I wish to drive a car when I'm 16
Things never change, do they? Extra chromosomes do not alter the longings of a heart. She desires to be loved and accepted, to please her dad, mom, family, and teachers, and have lots of fun with friends. I wish all special needs children received the unconditional love and support that these kids are blessed with. It has made a difference. The sky's the limit when you believe and have help being launched toward a wonderful destiny.
She Has Her Father's Eyes
Well actually, Ryleigh has her mom's and they are lovely. I am referring to a song made popular by Amy Grant that you've probably heard. Children learn by example how to love a Father they have never seen, when they see Him through the eyes of their dad. Ryleigh has learned sooner than many girls to trust the love of her Father God because of the unconditional love she sees daily in her dad's eyes. Girls usually want to be like mom, and look for validation in the eyes of dad.
It is never too late for men to shower their daughter(s) with unconditional love and acceptance. To be trustworthy so she will not fear trusting. To be faithful so she will do likewise. To be tender so she will not feel compelled to be tough. Sweet 16 or Sweet 36 and beyond. Cherish her, take her out, treat her like the princess in her fantasy. If she knows you think so, she will believe it as well.
No words necessary!
This is definitely Ryleigh's Song.
Amy Grant - Her Father's Eyes