Every year, it’s hurt a little less.  To the point where most of the time, there is no hurt.  It’s just life. Our life is slightly more complicated than most but whatever.  It’s our normal.  Our normal feels so normal that I pause every time someone or something hints it’s not.  

A couple days back, we gathered for our annual Buddy Walk, an awareness event and fundraiser for Down syndrome.  An annual reminder that we’re not quite normal – but we are much loved.  A sobering yearly reminder of what life was, what life is now, and what’s always been.

If I could travel back in time five years to that first Buddy Walk, I’d quietly tell that baby and that mom about tonight.

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That baby.  The one whose body, mind and future were… bleak? terrifying? All because my body couldn’t manage to stitch hers together quite right.

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That mom. I didn’t know how long it would be before she would start to reach her milestones. She couldn’t do much of anything at that point and I’d already been patiently waiting for five long months, just begging her to give me any sort of inkling that would clearly prove she’d be okay.  That she’d grow out of this.

That she’d be normal.

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Tonight.  I’d tell her about tonight.  The night after her sixth Buddy Walk.  The night after all the people that donated money and came out to celebrate and support her as they’d done every year since she was that tiny baby.  When that 5-month-old turned 5-year-old danced and twirled around the bathroom (naked… which has no bearing on this story but feels important for posterity’s sake) singing to the Beatles song I had put on by chance.

Spinning and swaying around, singing her own made-up lyrics in her sweet little off-key way.  “I love you, mommmm” followed by her big hugs and kisses.

Doesn’t get much more normal than that.

Mom and baby from 2010, you guys are going to be just fine.