In July 2012 my daughter, Madison, and her best friend, Reichen, both celebrated turning four!
Four years ago we didn’t know Reichen’s family. On July 4th when he was being born I was having my baby shower and at the time, I was blissfully ignorant about Down syndrome. Being 23 and pregnant with my second daughter, Down syndrome was nowhere in my mind or my husband’s. Then 20 days later on July 24th my baby girl was born and that is the day that ignorance was no longer allowed. Of course I didn’t know that day just what joy that extra little chromosome would bring and all the wonderful people I would meet because of it.
Fast forward three months to our first Buddy Walk. I met a woman with adorable twins and learned that one of them has Down syndrome. It was exciting to meet someone who had a child so close to my child’s age; we exchanged numbers and promised to meet up. That meeting is what I believe is a big part of the Buddy Walk - if not for that I would not have met this amazing woman who would soon be one of my best friends and greatest confidants. As promised we setup a play date later that month, then another and another! We have continued getting together as much as possible and in doing so, have watched friendships grow not just between us but also our children.
With Down syndrome there are so many emotions we are afraid to express to people because we are scared of the reaction we may get. Having a person who knew exactly what I was going through and in fact was going through it at the same time was life changing. I was never ashamed to call her crying about fears I had or ignorant people, sometimes doctors, I came across. She has always been there with complete understanding and never judging. Watching our children celebrate their birthdays every year makes me so happy because I know just as I have my friend who understands me and is always there for me, our children are building that same relationship year after year. That includes not only our children who have Down syndrome, but also our children who do not. Just as we need each other they will too and I am so happy that what started and continues as one of my greatest friendships is also turning into great friendships for both of my daughters as well.