Shortly after waking up the next morning, the doctor told me he thought Sarah was Down syndrome. My dreams of the little girls being best friends were shattered. For days, I avoided Stacy's entire family. If I saw them outside playing, I would be sure to stay inside. I didn't want to have to tell them about our diagnosis. Eventually, I pulled together enough strength to let them in on our little secret. Is it By Chance or By Design that Stacy and Sarah quickly became playmates.
When Sarah was just a toddler, I was given a copy of the book Circles of Friends by Robert and Martha Perske. Chapter 3 begins, "Friendships are such an everyday thing, we just take them for granted. They are like electricity, telephone, clothing and three meals a day - we anguish only when we are deprived of them. And yet we have just begun to sense the pain experienced by people with disabilities when they are deprived of mutually satisfying friendships with ordinary people." At the time, I remember reading the book, more interested in the beautiful illustrations of darling children with Ds. The words did not seem to have a particular connection with me. Looking back, I simply didn't get it.
(click on the picture to enlarge)
In 2007, the Brush High School yearbook editors decided to write stories about friends. Without giving me the details Stacy told me she agreed to share her story of her friendship with Sarah. The day the book came out, I started to get calls from teachers who worked at the high school. They could barely tell me about it without crying. Then parents of other students started calling. They too were having a hard time describing it. Finally, I drove up to get Sarah's copy. Why I had to read it before getting to the car is beyond me. I was sobbing. Hysterically. The security guards stopped me to ask if I was alright. The assistant principal asked if he could be of help. I made it to the car, calmed myself down, and then called Stacy on my cell phone. I tried to tell her how much I liked the article, how much I admired her inner strength to share her story, and how much I loved her.
Robert Perske goes on to write in the book, "we need to view a good friendship the way we look at a sunrise, seeing it in all its radiance."
That's why I was so emotional, and I suspect the other adults too. I finally got it. Sarah has been genuinely blessed to have such a beautiful friendship with Stacy. True friendships are to be envied. They generate their own energy, their own passion, their own life line.
My wish for every child with Down syndrome is to be blessed with a friend like Stacy. There is nothing richer in this world.