Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chasing Butterflies

I went out with a friend last night and had a wonderful time catching up on life and laughing. She mentioned a blog she reads by a mom in Florida who is also a photographer and who always seems to be doing crafty and fun stuff with her family. This mom gave birth to a baby girl a few months ago with Down syndrome. It was a complete surprise to everyone. A few minutes ago I read the account here and I'm glad there was no one in the house. I was SOBBING. I just couldn't help myself. Everything she wrote rang so true. They weren't just words on a screen...they were feelings I'd felt. She too has an older daughter and dreamed of a "perfect" little family. She too felt the wrenching pain of learning she would not have the child she expected. She too cried nonstop for hours and hours.

And she too found healing after, and sometimes in the midst of, the agony.

Last weekend we were at a wedding and someone at the table brought up boys and birthday parties. I didn't even hear the conversation but after a few minutes Dan said quietly to me, "I just thought of Ethan and wondered if he'd ever want something like a pirate birthday party." I could almost see a trace of tears in Dan's eyes. He doesn't dwell on things; they just tend to smack him and then move on.

"I know, I know," I whispered back. "I've thought of that." Even recently. A few minutes later it was time for the groom and mom dance and suddenly this video came back to me that I'd seen on an autism website. It was this incredibly depressing video that I believe was designed to elicit sympathy or pity, and most of all donations. A downtrodden mom said into the camera tonelessly, "I'll never see my boy get married or dance with him at his wedding." When I first saw that I turned off the computer and cried and cried. Here we were at the wedding and I felt that twinge, that pain, that sadness. But something else was stronger.

"Who knows?" I said suddenly to Dan. "Who really knows?" Could we really project the future from here? But even, even if all of those things are true, A resolve was rising up in me that I'd never felt before. "We all have a purpose here on this earth," I said, while the music blared and everyone else talked about other things. "I'll be proud of him no matter what he accomplishes."

"Me too," said Dan, and we were able to smile. And later we danced, without melancholy or longing or wondering what would happen down the road. All I could think is that so much of life is what we make of it. So much depends on our perspective. And so much is made beautiful when seen through the eyes of unconditional love. That is the story of our lives. Not who we marry, what accolades we receive, how much money we make, or even which talents we hone. No, it's about how much we truly give and receive love.

This afternoon the sky was an incredible blue and the breeze felt wonderfully cool. Ethan and I saw a butterfly land on a pot of flowers. He went closer to examine and it fluttered away, so we took off after it. We ran through the too-tall grass in our backyard, laughing and chasing as the butterfly flitted from tree to tree. And I was perfectly happy.

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