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To My Child With Down Syndrome, From the Luckiest Mom in the World

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This is a personal letter for my daughter. It is her birthday, and every year on her birthday I think about the journey we have been on. When she was born eight years ago, her diagnosis of Down syndrome felt like a tragedy. I was ignorant about what Down syndrome was, ignorant about what really matters in life. It is because of her that I write, because of her that I am passionate about seeing the church embrace disability. She changed me, she changed my life. And today I want to honor her.

Dear Nichole,

Today you turn 8 years old.

In the middle of the night you came to our room and climbed into bed with your dad and me. We usually take you back to your room, but it’s your birthday, so we let you stay. As the sun began to make its appearance, I heard your daddy whisper to you, “Happy birthday.” The words were enough to shake the sleep off, you sat up and threw your arms around him. “Happy birthday, sweetheart,” I said, and you hugged me too. So tight. Then you kissed me and I kissed you back.

I wish I’d known how rich and full and abundant in love our life would be with you in it. I wish I’d known that Down syndrome was not scary, and that it would be something in you I would come to love. But you have taught me that it’s about the person, not the disability. And ultimately, it’s about love. It’s always been about love.

I believe God has used your life to change mine in many ways. I am so thankful that it was me, that I was the chosen one for you, and you for me. I am thankful that we get to do life together. Thankful that I get to watch you grow up, learn, develop and become the beautiful person that you are today. I love watching how you affect people around you, for the better.

Today at school your friends were waiting for you to wish you a happy birthday. They were so excited for you, waiting in anticipation for your smiles, for you to put on the birthday crown. And I saw your face, open and inviting, happy to have your friends celebrate you. Because you are a gift to celebrate.

And there is this great abundant love we live with because of you. A love so strong that it makes me move to action. To take a stand. To be bold. To be brave.

I love you. I am madly in love, completely in love.

I didn’t know it was possible to live life with this kind of love. So fierce, so strong, so deep.

The kind of love that makes me feel like the luckiest mom in the world.

The kind of love that I couldn’t live without.

It’s hard to explain what I feel so deep. You have altered my life for the better, made it richer, fuller, wider. My heart wants to burst with love, but instead tears flow freely with gratitude that you are mine, with joy that I get to watch you grow up, and with a measure of love that continues to grow.

I am convinced the extra chromosome means extra love. And I think we could all use extra love in life.

With love, Mom.

Follow this journey on Ellen Stumbo’s site.

Originally published: October 6, 2015
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