Monday afternoon two friends stopped by to see me and wish me well. Both are moms of daughters with Down syndrome, like me. Our daughters are 20, 28, and 38, so among the three of us we are confronting an interesting array of life issues that affect families of kids with disabilities, a topic never far from our minds or the reality of our lives.
Ashley is young, and her daughter Cristina in transition from high school to adult life.
Suzanne's daughter Julia has lived at the Ranch for several years and is approaching middle age (at least middle age for Down syndrome, which comes on quicker than for the rest of the population). Suzanne very recently and unexpectedly lost her husband, and she, Julia, and brother Jason are dealing with that sad reality.
Kelly, of course, is my daughter who at 28 feels she has nailed the early part of adulthood and is ready to move on, hopefully with her beloved Sterling, to a place of their own.
And I, of course, am in treatment for ovarian cancer.
We sat in the late afternoon light coming through the windows and talked of life, our daughters, our hopes and fears–all of which are there in abundance. Suzanne brought me a book by a friend of hers that she thought would speak to me. Ashley had brought me a pyramid of Texas oranges to pump me full of vitamin C before the next chemo.
Our daughters were out in their world, doing their thing, as we did ours. But our minds were, as always, preoccupied by them.
We lamented our limited ability to advise our daughters, to console them in their grief, or alleviate their obsessions on their fears (Kelly is horrified by my hair falling out and no amount of explanation that “balder is not sicker” will suffice.)
Life's harsher realities will not pass them by. They must face them just as we must. It is not fair, but there it is. But in truth, we have little more at our disposal than they. Our fears and tears are equal in this at least.
What makes it bearable is when friends reach out to offer encouragement, faith, and understanding, despite the grief, the busy schedules, and the holiday season roaring away outside the walls of our shared concerns.