On Belonging, and the Buddy Walk
When I got the prenatal diagnosis for Ace’s Down syndrome I felt a strong sense of separation. I was no longer a typical mother raising typical kids. I was different. My husband was different. Our family was somehow other.
This wasn’t something I worried about for long. From the beginning our friends and our church community have checked in with us, have rallied to pray and listen, have cheered when Ace’s health has been great, and have given him more kisses than any baby prince.
Honestly, I think we did the Buddy Walk because we needed to see that we’d be okay. I think we just needed to see people cheering for our little guy. We needed to know that our friends’ kids would be raised to love him and celebrate him, we needed our older boys to associate Down syndrome with something wonderful, not something scary, not something unknown.
So we did Zumba led by Yulissa, the first ever certified Zumba instructor with DS. (She was amazing.) We carried a banner and cheered for our team. We marched around the park in a parade of rainbow shirts.
And I said this simple thing to our team before we marched out: “When we got Ace’s diagnosis we were so afraid we’d feel alone in this. I want you to know we don’t feel alone at all. We feel surrounded.”
That’s what community is for. This year has been a hard one for my church. The shaking of my church home has mirrored the shaking of my life with this diagnosis. But it’s also mirrored the beauty of friendship and the beauty of holding tight to one another. My baby is the most lovely thing I’ve ever seen. His eyes are not my eyes–those extra folds, that space along the rim of his nose. But then again, my oldest son took his baby picture to school last week and his whole class (at least the girls!) said, “You looked just like Ace!”
What I’m trying to say is that we belong to each other. It’s not always the surface similarities that make us look like one another.
Sometimes the walls shake and the tide washes into all the structures we thought were sturdy and the life we knew drifts away in a soft current, just beyond us, unreachable.
Life changes. And my life doesn’t have to look like yours in order for us to love each other. We get to love each other anyway.
And so we wear our rainbow #ACEface shirts, in all its many forms. And we dance like crazy to Zumba and cheer for all the children who stand before us.
My life is not like yours, but we are each other’s. Isn’t that the story of the Church? All these years, all these broken parts, and still we hold to Jesus.