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To the Mother and Her Son With Down Syndrome Who Noticed Me Watching Them

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Dear stranger,

I may need to apologize to you. I think I may have ruined your day.

You probably think I’m just another person who doesn’t understand, but I wanted to explain to you that I do. I get it. I wasn’t just another person staring at “different,” another person made to feel uncomfortable by a person not like myself. I wasn’t watching your son because I thought he was less than; I was watching him because I thought he was so much more. You see, in him I saw my future son. In you, I saw myself.

You were just eating lunch, but to me it was so much more than that. You were both deep in conversation, laughing and joking and oblivious to anything else around you. You just radiated fun, happiness and comfort. Your son has Down syndrome and he was happy. He’s living a life some others may view as “worthless,” yet it’s very clearly not. He shone!

Hayley with her son who has Down syndrome.
And you? The love and pride you have for your son was right there for all to see. You looked at him with nothing but joy. Not regret, not embarrassment and not pity. Just pure love. So I wanted to to thank you, because it’s parents like you that show parents like me it’s going to be OK. It’s people like your son that show parents like me a glimpse of our future and that we don’t need to fear it.

I looked at you and I saw us.

Yours sincerely,
A grateful mother

This story originally appeared on I Am River.

Originally published: September 10, 2019
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