Since Glee has decided it's cool for us all to have friends with special needs, I'd like for you to meet one of my dearest friends. She's kind of a celebrity sort on the island. She's a cheerleader in high school and I'm just lucky she can make time to hang out with me. I met Megan with her family in 2006 and her presence has enriched my life beyond words. My relationship with Megan is simple. We just love each other and, if you've not experienced it, the love of a child with Down syndrome is a beautiful thing. Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat: Megan is not your trick pony. While a lot of the things she does and says are funny, she's not some clown sent to entertain folks. She's a full person, with preferences and feelings even though her eyes cross a little and she needs help taking care of herself.
In my head I keep running lists of things I like about my friends. It might be easiest if I just tell you the list I have for Megan:
• When we arrive at the beach she sometimes helps me unpack and tries on all my clothes as I put them away which is good because it gets them all stretched out and ready for me.
• She sings a lot and loudly – my favorite is the Barney song falsetto .
• She wears other people's shoes more than her own.
• She tells me Happy Birthday no less than 300 times on my birthday and she sings it too.
• She's cool that I don't like parties.
• Dogs love her.
• When her feelings are hurt, she tells you without making you guess why.
• She never stifles a laugh.
• She walks in a room expecting everyone to be excited about seeing her (I need to do that more), often with a loud announcement of her name.
• She always says thank you and you're welcome, but sometimes backwards.
• She believes mustard goes on anything.
• We don't have to talk.
• She rides a tricycle with a honker on it and knows exactly the route to my house.
• She's always up for climbing the lighthouse.
• She gets the comedic value of Groucho glasses.
• She's handy because never forgets a name or face so I can ask her when I can't recall who someone is.
• She matches her clothes by comfort instead of color or pattern.
• She sings Olivia's name like the Hallelujah chorus.
• She greets anyone with brown skin or an accent with, "Hola!"
• She names people whatever she wants, sometimes by a striking characteristic, so meeting new folks is exciting.
• She prays with sincerity and enthusiasm.
• When I leave the island she stands at the ferry landing and waves until she can't see the boat anymore.
There are some things about Megan's life that may be harder than mine, but she's got a few things nailed that I don't. She's not going to bed at night consumed with worry about schedules. There's a focus on the here and now that liberates her from that. She's also not interested in hiding her heart from you - if she loves you, you'll know and if not, she'll make you aware of that too. She says what she wants. Her love is bigger and more accepting than mine. She sees right past what we might consider the right things – the clothes, the trappings, our weight, the titles – into a heart that I might not even want her to see, and fortunately, she loves me anyway. What more could I ask for in a friend?