Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Get in Line

I love France and all things French. Well, almost all things... French people have no sense of a queue. There I was patiently waiting in line at the post office when a woman in a skinny black skirt and clicking heels stepped right in front of me as I headed up to the window. Surely the clerk would tell her that I was next and ask her to get in line... but no, this is France... and line butting is an art over here.

Rude, aren’t they? I mean really... what kind of people butt in line?

I’ll tell ya what kind. You do. Picture this... you’re driving down the interstate (or any two, three etc. lane road) and you see a huge construction sign on the shoulder. Blink, blink... right lane ends 1 mile. Cars have already slowed, a line has already formed in the left lane. The guy in front of you is still moving along at a good clip so you follow him and contemplate your move into the left lane.

Do you cut in now, as soon as you realized what is going on? Well did you? (Yes? well ok, then this post is not about you, dear considerate person, and I apologize right now for having pointed the finger at you in the last paragraph.)

Maybe you floated along another 1/4 mile and edged in front of a tractor-trailer...

Or not. Now the cars haven’t just slowed on your left, they are crawling... a bumper to bumper metal snake. The guy in front of you finally cuts in with a friendly wave to the driver that held a place for him.

You look left and see the driver in the car next to you is actively ignoring you. Do you put your blinker on and hope the next guy lets you in?

(Not if you’re my husband. You boldly continue on while your wife begins to fret in her seat.)

By now you’ve passed three more signs, the last one indicating that the right lane ends 500 feet ahead. Do you start scanning the drivers to see which one will let you in? Or do you go the distance and then force your way in (after trying to smile and wave your way in.)

It is me you’re cutting in front of and I am going somewhere important too. And while I am wondering who the heck you think you are to fly past the twenty minute wait and push your way to the front of the line, I am also wondering what kind of petty person I am if I don’t let you.

Ok, so most likely I restrained myself and didn’t bang into your car as you angled in front of me, but if you heard me yelling “Canard!” out the window, know that I was insulting you in French.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Lullaby for Kimani

On July 26, 2008 I stumbled upon these verses. Kimani was battling meningitis and no one was sure yet who would win. Next to the verses I had written the date and the words, "A little lullaby for Kimani".

A song of ascents.
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Psalms 121: 1-8

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pizza Hut Post Notes

I made this up of course.

About a year or so before I had my first child, I saw a little girl with Down syndrome in Pizza Hut when I went to pick up a pizza. She was beautiful. She had piles of curly brown hair and huge sparkling blue eyes. Her dad was holding her, waiting in line for a table, so she was actually “taller” than I am. She stared right at me, right inside of me. I felt like we knew each other. She waved and so did I. It was surreal and obviously I never forgot it.

Last week, or so, I came across a post on a board where a woman was trying to decide if she should keep her fetus with Ds or “try again”. That evening I got to thinking about how a person would explain to a real human with Ds why they were not wanted. I thought that having that conversation might help a woman to figure out her feelings.

These two events collided and became the post, Lunch at Pizza Hut.

So while I like when you tell me I am brave to be so honest, the truth is I never even considered an abortion. I skipped all the prenatal tests because I did not want to be put in a position to even think about it. By the time they found the baby’s heart defect on ultrasound I was 28 weeks pregnant and there was no way I was turning back. It wasn't even on our radar.

Would I have chosen to abort her if I was in a different life, or at a different point in this life? I would hope that I would have still chosen to go forward, but I am me now, not some other me, so I can’t answer for her.

I can only say that I am glad I am me now and that Kimani is mine. And if you're going to be reading this blog, you’ll need to get used to the occasional bit of creative fiction.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Making Me Proud

I can only hope my sons will grow up to be like this kid. If you care at all about me or my daughter Kimani, please take ten minutes out of your day to watch this video.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lunch at Pizza Hut

In my dream I am sitting in Pizza Hut because that is where I first saw her. She wanders over to my table with her big blue eyes locked on mine. She has curly brown hair... curls... rare for a child with Down syndrome. She holds her baby doll up and asks if they can sit with me.

“I don’t want to be your mother.” I blurt out.

She slides into the seat and looks at me with surprise.

“Why not?” she asks.

I suddenly feel guilty and defensive. “92 percent of mothers just like me don’t want to be your mother.” I answer foolishly.

“Why not?” She repeats her question.

“Well, because you are not as smart as other kids.” I begin.

She cuts me off with a song, “a, b, c, d, e, f, g...” After it is over she continues, “Your shirt is blue. I know that and so I am too smart.”

I thought she was four or five years old but now I see she has a gap where a bottom tooth has gone missing. This must make her more like six.

“I think you will cost more.” I tell her.

As if she is reading my mind she says, “I don't wear diapers anymore. Those are for babies.” To prove this fact, she lifts up her baby doll and shows me its diapered bottom.

“You might get sick.”

“I already was sick.” She answers. “See?” She says as she pulls her tee-shirt up over her face to reveal a faint scar running vertically down her whitish-pink chest.

“Did that hurt?” I wonder aloud.

“I don’t remember. My dad says it hurt him real bad.” She answers, her small voice muffled by the cotton shirt.

“Put your shirt down.” I say and she does.

“You might grow up to be ugly.” I know this might hurt her feelings but I have to say it.

“All grown ups are pretty.” She laughs, “Except for the boy ones. Some of them are stinky.”

“I mean, you might drool or your tongue might protrude,“ I clarify.

She sticks her tongue out at me. “My tongue is pretty,” she says, “and I only stick it out when I am tired.”

“You might die.” I feel bad saying this but she needs to know the truth.

Her answer is soft, “If you won’t be my mommy, I am already dead.”

We eat in silence for a while. When my slice is finished, I tell her that I must be going now.

“Will I see you again?” She asks.

She has worn me down. “Yes,” I tell her, “I think so.”

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I’m Not Special

It wasn’t a religious thing, nor was it a moral thing. And, I am not special.

I didn’t want a baby with Down syndrome. Really, I didn’t. But more than that, I didn’t want to face an abortion.

She was a wanted baby. We made her on purpose. We were thrilled and excited to be pregnant again. It is not like this was some college accident.

I am lucky... I can get pregnant at the drop of a... well, you know how it works. We could have very easily done a do-over. Two, three months later I would have been pregnant again. Most likely it would have been a perfectly typical baby.

But to get there, I would have had to choose death for the zygote, fetus, baby that was already on the way. I, me personally, would have had to say definitively that this person should not live. Then I would have had to get up on the table to prove it.

I just couldn’t do it to her.

And everyday, as I bask in the light that shines mysteriously around her, I am so thankful that her story didn’t end that way.

Photo credit: Artist Anaa

Friday, October 2, 2009

If Jesus Were My Son

Or rather what if Mary had a baby with Down syndrome... would she have asked her son Jesus to take away it away?

I’ve already said what I would do if given the choice but I wonder what would Mary do? She didn’t mind asking him for a little wine to get him started on his long train of miracles... And what’s a bit of wine compared to an extra chromosome?

Jesus cured a lot of things. Some of them were probably congenital defects. Nobody brought a person with Down syndrome to Jesus for healing. Were there no children with Down syndrome around? Was in not considered something that needed fixing?

In Mark chapter 8, a few verses after Jesus heals a blind man, he has this to say, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” What would I gain if Kimani’s Ds was gone? What would she gain? What might she lose?

I am thinking that Mary would not have asked Jesus for this “miracle” because... well... wine isn’t very life-changing. I am sure that throughout her time with Jesus there were probably many, say more meaningful, things she could have asked him for. Surely she knew people who were dealing with sickness, or infertility, or some other life-altering sorrow but when it came down to it, she asked for wine at a wedding.

Wine? Really? Come on... this was his MOM, she had an IN...

But maybe she already knew that her son’s miracles were more about lessons to be learned and majesty to be shown than “normalcy” to be gained.

Maybe I am wrong about Mary. Maybe I don’t really have a clue what she would do. Maybe I should head over to Seedlings In Stone and leave a comment so I can win the book she’s giving away this week, The Real Mary by Scot McKnight.

Thursday, October 1, 2009