Waiting for the doors to open, my Dad beside me, I started to whisper to him how much I appreciated all he had done to help make this day all I had dreamed of, and he quickly responded back with, “Don’t make me cry.” The music changed, the doors opened and all I could see in front of me was my future. The man waiting under the garden archway surrounded by candles, roses, hydrangeas , family and friends, had asked me to marry him and I said yes. At 48 years old, I was becoming a wife, mother and grandmother for the first time in my life.
As our eyes met, it felt like there was no one else in the room. Moving forward, I caught a glimpse of blue and brown quickly moving towards me. Suddenly a little blonde head was at my waist and arms thrown around me in embrace. While planning our wedding, Mark and I wondered what his 10 year old daughter, who has Down syndrome, and rarely conforms to the expected, might do. Captured in the unexpected hug, nothing seemed more “right” than to stop and embrace my future. As I leaned down for a second “squeeze hug”, as Sarah likes to call it, I kissed the top of her head and she turned and swept her arm forward as if to say, “Go ahead, there’s my Dad.” Rather than interrupting my moment, Sarah made it. Smiling, I watched her walk over to greet each of the bridesmaids, wearing a blue dress to match their flowers, with a sheer brown overlay and brown satin bow to match their dresses. Her own unique style showed through the holes in the bottoms of her tights as she had long abandoned her shoes and chosen to go barefoot.
Saying “I do” to her Dad, I opened my heart and life to so much more than I ever expected. We have Sarah 50% of the time, and she is my amazing love story. She has taught me to laugh, just to laugh. She says, “Laugh with me Daddy,” and we spend the next 5 or 10 minutes in deep, heart healing, belly laughter. She has taught me the sincerity of a grateful heart. When I do the simplest thing, whether playing a game, helping her make brownies, or sitting together in a chair to watch cartoons, she throws her arms around me and plants a big kiss on my cheek and says, “Thank you.” She has taught me that the greatest part of Hide and Seek is being found. She has taught me that cooking, setting the table, and laundry, are joyful privileges, not chores, as she delights in helping. This amazing little girl with the extra chromosome has opened my heart to extra love, extra joy, and extra fulfillment as I have embraced becoming her extra mom. I asked God for a husband and family, and I know my prayers were answered because love came "Down."