Friday, January 18, 2008

The One O'Clock Rollover

The one o'clock rollover determines the fate of the evening's sleep. It has for years now. When I fall asleep, I always fall asleep lying on my left side. At around one every night - that's every night - I come to a little bit and roll over onto the other side. On the roll over a memory pops into my mind. The other night, it was a memory of a betrayal by a really close freind. And that was it. The end of sleep. Usually, though, my mind is more positive and picks something nice, a warm memory to send me back to sleep.

Last night, the one o'clock rollover over was accompanied by a beautiful memory. This surprised me because I spent yesterday telling a lot of people about Brent Martin and the image of his last moments were burned deep into my mind with each telling. But Brent wasn't there, this morning at one.

Instead ...

Many years ago I worked at an agency where a youngish single woman had put in to adopt a child with Down Syndrome. She specifically, only, wanted a child who had been cast away because of her disability. She felt that she had something to contribute to a child with a disability. And indeed she did. I have met many people who work in the field of intellectual disability who are good at what they do - she went a little further than good. Her caring came out in her voice. The kind of caring that doesn't patronize, it was the kind of caring that wrapped hurt in a warm blanket and gave it tea.

She told me that she had got the call and was going to be a mother with awe in her voice and barely concealed glee. She arranged to take time off work and was heading to the hospital that very afternoon to meet her daughter. The social worker kept wanting to tell her stories about the parents, she refused to listen to the negativity, 'This is a day of 'hello', she's already had her day of 'goodbye,' she said to me.

I went to visit a few days later when she was at home with her little girl. Oh my, she was small. I don't think I'd ever seen a newborne before and didn't realize that they were so tiny. So fragile. She gave me the baby to hold and I did. I wondered if that tiny creature could feel my heard beating wildly as I held her. The enormity of holding life in my arms was huge, the automatice sense of wanting to protect and keep safe took me over. I was terrified that I wouldn't be up to the trust - I gave her back.

And then the baby roused a little bit. Mom leaned down and kissed each eye. "You have the most beautiful eyes in the world, don't let anyone ever tell you different," she said. Then she smoothed out these tiny perfect hands and kissed each one saying, "People will tell you that these hand won't be able to do much, don't listen to them you have perfect little hands." I got tears in my eyes and tried to discreetly wipe them away.

After baby was back in bed we had tea and she told me that she has decided that since her little girl is going to get a lot of negative messages about who she is and what she looks like, she will be full of positive messages first. So full that there will be no room for hopelessness, despair or self hatred.

I don't know where she is now, either mother or child. But I imagine them doing well.

And I thank them for a wonderful nights sleep.

And for waking - smiling.

With hope restored.


Betsy said...

What a sweet memory! You've met some wonderful people along your journey of life - and we are all so thankful you have chosen to share them with us.

I love my daughter's eyes, those brushfield spots that come along with T21 are absolutely amazing - like God sprinkled stardust in her eyes to remind all those who look at her how very important she is...

Like the woman in your story, Paige's hands have done great things too...

Anonymous said...

We always receive compliments on Gabe's eyes. And they're beautiful..just like his hands...his feet...and the adorable way his arms fall just short of his hips. Honestly, I had visualized some awful things when I was pregnant with Gabe, out of fear and ignorance. Instead, I have the most beautiful and smart and funny child. Thank goodness that the mother found her child -- and thank goodness the mother sees the unbounding beauty that T21 characteristics bring to a person.