“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.” John 15.9
Today my husband Jerry and I had breakfast with old friends who played an important role in our starting Down Home Ranch. They also have a child with Down syndrome. We talked about how the question of where our kids will live, and what their lives will be like when we are gone is ever on our mind.
As it happens, last week their son had to have a biopsy to test for recurrence of cancer he was treated for several years ago. They were worried as the test itself carried significant risk, due to the location of the tissue to be biopsied, so I went to sit and pray with them at the hospital while it was done. Today they await the results.
“Can you believe,” asked Martha, “that my cousin said to me, ‘You know, it might be for the best if he does have cancer and dies from it and then you won’t have that burden of worrying what will happen to him while you’re gone.’?”
Shades of Job’s comforters—may the Lord spare us!
We shared the story of our other friends whose daughter died at 31. The parents were stunned, as she’d seemed to be in perfect health, but at the funeral, the father said to us, “You know, it’s an answer to prayer, really. I’ve prayed from the day we learned of her disability that she would go before us.”
Such thinking mystified us.
All the time we sat at our table talking, I was watching a mother with her daughter at a table not far away. The girl, in her 20s, was non-verbal, and quite disabled. She was given to periodic loud shrieks which, fortunately, the crowd around us bore patiently, for the most part. I watched as her mom calmed her, stroked her, smiled at her, and fed her patiently.
“That is the face of love,” I thought.
I got up to go to the bathroom and as I was returning felt an almost audible prompt from the Holy Spirit: “Go and thank that mother for being the face of love for you this day.” Without thinking, I walked up to her, smiled and said just that:
“Thank you for being the face of love for me today.”
I then went on to tell her that I had a daughter with Down syndrome. She asked me where my daughter lived and I said Down Home Ranch. “Oh!” She said, “That lady came out and talked to my church group a few years after my daughter was born!”
I laughed and said, “Well, that lady was me.” We talked a little longer, exchanged contact information, and I returned to my husband and friends. By then they were talking about how Iceland, Denmark, and other countries have vowed to reduce the number of births of babies with Down syndrome to zero by ensuring the detection and abortion of every conception of a child so identified.
France outlawed the showing of a beautiful PSA made by families of children with Down syndrome that portrayed lovely young people from all over the European Union with the condition smiling and telling expectant mothers with a “bad diagnosis” from their prenatal tests, “Don’t be afraid.”
Some time ago I heard a young woman on a call-in radio program saying that nobody supported her in her decision to stay married to her husband after an accident left him with profound brain damage—neither her family nor her friends.
The world has never felt to me so estranged from love that requires any level of sacrifice.
Saint Mother Teresa said, “We do not tell the child born with no hands, ‘Baby, you have no hands so we do not want you.’ We tell the child,
“‘Baby, we will be your hands.’”
I pray you see the face of love today.
Photo:@tdyuvbanova via Twenty20