I have this friend, Lolet.
We had met through our children’s school. I learned a little bit about her through one of the activities we volunteered for together. We chatted, I took her number and we parted ways. We would see each other, always exchange a friendly smile, but both being busy moms would exchange our pleasantries and then move on to the next activity for our kids.
A couple of years later, after I gave birth to Gellibean, a mutual friend had shared that Lolet had an older daughter with Down Syndrome. Gellibean was still a newborn, but I found Lolet’s number saved in my phone and I called her right away.
She came over with Camille. We talked. She shared her story, and her story became intertwined with mine (and Gelli’s) simply because we sat and we talked about it. That’s what sharing does…
At that time, I had just joined the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines and I asked her if she was a member. We talked about how she coped all those years ago. She was a first time mom and gave birth in a foreign country. She poured herself into her work. She and her husband Ramil were a young couple and they too, were shocked with Camille’s diagnosis after she was born. We talked a lot. I cried. She cried. But just knowing she was there made it a little bit easier. We shared our hopes and fears…which may not have actually been all that different, despite the difference in our daughters’ age.
Camille just turned 18. What a beautifully blessed celebration we were able to attend! It was beautiful from start to finish and I couldn’t be happier to attend such a celebration not just for Camille, but for my friend Lolet.
There was love in every detail of the celebration from the beautifully made gowns, the flowers that adorned the tables, and the delicious dessert buffet that guests were able to partake of. There was a cotillion where members of the Adamson Cheer Dance Team partnered up with Camille’s friends from school and they danced and smiled all in celebration of Camille and her 18 years.
I was especially honored when Lolet asked me to be one of the 18 treasures for Camille. This entailed me sharing my special gift of significance, for Camille in front of everyone who attended. Funny thing is, I thought I was being completely original in gifting the celebrant a charm bracelet! (Ha! I was one of 3 people to give her a charm bracelet!) Well, I did pick out each charm specifically for her taking into consideration not just her interests, but also my prayers for her. I chose a flower charm so that she will take time to stop and smell the flowers, a music note because music always makes her happy, a dove that symbolizes The Holy Spirit, and a peace sign so that she can always find peace and balance in her life.
But I suppose the most important part of the night for me, as a mom, was not Camille blowing her candles out, not the Cotillion where she and her friends shared the dance floor, and not even the part where she accepted her third charm bracelet for the night from me. The most important part of the night is when my friend Lolet shared a song that I know very well. She sang a song that brings me to tears every time I hear it. And when she sang it that night…I had to stop myself from running right up there and hugging her and Camille.
Lolet sang “God Doesn’t Make Mistakes.”
My husband said it succinctly.
“She sang that song like a warrior.”
She sure did. As parents of kids with special needs we NEED to be warriors. We need to push beyond ourselves and do what we must for our children and for our families. Not every day is a fight. Most days are pretty much the same as they would be for typical parents…but some days…we have to put on our armor and FIGHT.
February is Down Syndrome Consciousness Month here in the Philippines. It’s not a month for “fighting,” rather it’s a month for educating…educating people about our children, and fostering acceptance as well.
In less than one week’s time we will be walking and celebrating my daughter’s designer genes at the Happy Walk. We will walk in honor of Gellibean, Camille, Marty, Liam, Noah, Joey, Coco, Jeremy and all of the other children with Down Syndrome who have touched our lives. We will walk in honor of those children whom we have yet to meet.
Join our family on Sunday, February 23rd, at the SKYDOME in SM North Edsa, as we celebrate Down Syndrome and the Happy Walk. For more information you can visit the Facebook page on how to join, sign up, make a donation, or just show your support by posting thru social media.