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Embracing the Pomp (and Different) Circumstances as My Son With Down Syndrome Graduates Amid COVID-19

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Do you know what happened on Sept. 11, 2001?

Yes, THAT happened.

But something else very, very tiny happened that day.

I was due for a blood draw.

You see, I was participating in research. It was a study that included a free ultrasound! And I was expecting my very first, very wanted, very loved baby. It was unfortunate I wouldn’t have anything to contribute really, because research was looking for early blood markers in pregnancies with babies with Down syndrome. And that couldn’t happen to me.

Four days later my life ended. But a new one started. And it was unbelievably painful at the beginning, but it has since been unforgettable and joyful. And I wouldn’t trade a moment of this new life for the old one (OK maybe a few moments).

Today I took a bit of a hit; Josh’s senior year is officially over.

No senior prom.
No senior breakfast.
No signatures in his senior yearbook.
No graduation.
No grad night.

No fault of the school. They’re doing the best they can. It’s because of the global pandemic.

But between you and me, I always had this secret, guarded vision of my beautiful son being cheered as he did a “JOSH DANCE” before his “typical” peers. And they would celebrate him and include him and love him with a mortarboard on his head. And the tassel will drive him nuts.

That can’t happen. That part of his (my) life has ended.

Yes, there was some crying in the shower tonight (again, me).

But a new life will start and will be unforgettable and joyful.

And we will start with the official JOSHUA DRIVE-BY GRADUATION EXTRAVAGANZA!

There will be MUSIC!
There will be JOSH DANCING!
There will be balloons and banners!
There will be a picnic table on the street where you can grab individual guacamole cups and chips and Diet Dr Pepper and Josh commemorative sunglasses as you drive by!

There will be my beautiful son being cheered as he does a JOSH DANCE before his “typical” peers. And WE will celebrate him and include him and love him with a mortarboard on his head. And the tassel will drive him nuts.

And I will carefully glue into his senior yearbook all the good wishes I will ask you to send. And it won’t any longer be an empty book.

And it will be different. And unforgettable and joyful.

And it will be a new life. And it will be amazing.

Because pomp and circumstance was never really Josh’s style anyway.

Photo submitted by contributor (Credit: Amy Galbraith)

Originally published: May 18, 2020
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