I love words. It is  why I write. I attach myself to a word and it invokes a sensory addiction. My favorite thing is to string them together like paper dolls; full of smells and sounds and visualization.Words so profound you can   taste them. They are my blankie, my lovey, my thumb, my bowl of chicken soup. They bring comfort and company to my distress. They allow me to express myself and  they relieve me of  angst, love or  any other grandiose feeling  bursting out of my being.

….so how in the last ten months have I missed such a special word????

I recently was urged to watch the show “Switched At Birth.” I don’t follow the show and know none of the characters. When I found it  on demand,  i pushed play anyways and joy crept through like heat from a vent.  The premise here is that a young couple is distraught about being pregnant.  The problem reaches true climax when they find out there are hard markers for Down Syndrome. The whole family struggles  with this proclamation the way a family would. The son is unsure. He knows there are options.  Either his incredible  acting or my insight to the situation makes me feel that he’s weighing them. The son’s dad is adamant that lives will be ruined  and that money will fly out of pockets as sure as moths. This dad is not subtle with his favorite option.   There is anger. There is sadness, bitterness and  clear disappointment. The writers really hammer  the way different feelings  pop out of groundhog holes.  There is also a wavering  sister. She takes her brother to a special school swirling  with children that have special needs( they really dropped the inclusion ball on this one) and they marinate. They meet some of the children and their snow melts.  An adorable young girl  with DS ceremoniously greets the undecided dad to be and you see how his opinions are morphing. Then, it happens. The line that I love most. A man approaches. He is a dad who is well on his  journey.( side note: the actor is actually a father of a child with Down Syndrome) he offers:

“I’m sure you’re still in shock, maybe sad too. In the beginning, it can hurt a little bit to see other kids. And there’s definitely some tough times, too. No doubt about that. But I can promise you, it’ll be the single most enriching experience of your life.”

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Enriching! Yes! Not easy, not infallible, not perfect…but enriching! Give me 500 adjectives, I would pick enriching. If you gave me perfect I would be shrugging my shoulders. I would not know what to do with that.  I love enlightened but some days I feel I fall short. Anyone can do easy and  well,  infallible,  that  is unattainable…. But enriched? That means that my simple  existence just became something relevant. It is deeper,  with more meaning and as the root word suggests; richer.

But it still means I am me.  I am still all things good and bad that I was before. It means I am still impatient in lines at the grocery store and when I hear a song I like,  I break into dance. I still worry more than makes sense and feel stress that makes me eat two donughts.  It means my job still exhausts me mentally and that I still like to play hide and go seek. It means I still occasionally drink too much ,swear to much and don’t take enough time for myself. My foundation is still the same.

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But I am also the recipient of random acts of kindness. Like when the ride operator came up to us at a festival and told me Judah could ride the merry go round for free.  I am now an heiress to empathy. Like when a couple  had tears in their eyes and expressed how much they understood the challenges I may face .  I am a beneficiary to warm, genuine compassion from friends and social media friends who truly appreciate the gift my son is. I have been given a voice, purpose, and I have had the pleasure of meeting  so many angels that walk  this  earth.

So thank you  all knowing dad on the show “Switched at Birth” enriching is exactly what my life has become. It doesn’t expect me to abandon anything. Defined it means: embellish, improve, jazz up, and beautify. I’d say that’s  exactly what life is like with Judah. Nothing has changed much. My smile is bigger, my eyes are brighter and my life is fuller. Yes, enriched, that will be my word.

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