The National Advocate for People with Down Syndrome Since 1979

National Down Syndrome Society
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Anything Can Be
Anything Can Be

“Listen to the Musn’ts, child Listen to the Don’ts. Listen to the Shouldn’ts, The Impossibles, the Won’ts. Listen to the Never Haves, Then listen close to me… anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” --Shel Silverstein ***** 5,445 days ago a little baby was born. He had Down syndrome...a heart defect and later leukemia. 5,445 days ago I didn't know a thing. I was biased and prejudiced. Flattened and broken. And the universe handed me a child...and his soul whispered to me, "Anything can be." I didn't know what to do or how to be. But my older two kids did. They knew the secret: Anything Can Be. Slowly. Following the path of love and the glittered steps of preschoolers who knew best, I learned. Mothering this new baby was just like those other two... love, belief, faith, being there.... day in and day out. ***** 5,445 days have gone by. The baby has gotten bigger, grown stronger, and is sitting on the edge of manhood. He's reading, writing, passionate, funny, and exuberant. Incomparable. Inexplicable. Indefinable. Miraculously irreplaceable. All I could do was live alongside him and show up each day...learning the lessons meant for me alone. 5,445 lessons...perfectly circular...perfectly balanced. Tonight it all came together. Tonight Patrick graduated from 8th grade...from a Catholic school. He's the first in the diocese to be fully included in the regular classroom, learning alongside his typical peers, attending the same school as his big brother and sister. The first. In blue cap and gown he walked in holding a lit candle. Light in the darkness. Another reminder. Anything can be. He strode up to receive his diploma. He sat back down and listened to the award winners. Suddenly, the teacher mentioned a special award. She spent time explaining the award. Describing attitude, effort and perseverance...lessons taught, day in, day out. Patrick's name was the one on the award. And like a crazy dream, he leaped up to receive the award as his classmates cheered. His classmates stood up. The audience stood up... the room transformed into a full standing ovation I just sat there... until the energy of the room pulled me up and I turned to my mom and asked, "Is this real?" Anything can be. This child of mine -- so broken to the outside world -- was fully seen, fully recognized, fully accepted on this day, in this moment, at his school. He was worthy. He was good enough. In fact, he was admired and awarded. And in this moment, in this dream-like world, we were one. Every single one of us in that big church belonged. We were valued. We were loved. The message was loud and clear. You, Patrick Foraker, have taught us something. Something we didn't know until you showed us. There will always be mustn'ts and can'ts. Don'ts and wont's. None of it matters, friend. Anything can be. Dreams come true. Share your wishes out loud. Wait. Watch what happens in a few thousand days.

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