Sunday, July 15, 2007

"A Life Like Yours"

I had a conversation with an amazing woman named Jennifer yesterday. Jennifer is 39 years old, and has Down Syndrome. Samantha and I attended the picnic for the Arc of Northern Virginia in Fairfax. Jennifer came up to us and introduced herself and asked if she could sit on the grass with us for a while. I said absolutely. Now, I have never spoken to anyone else with DS over the age of about 1. Frankly I was a little nervous. I guess because I didn't know what to expect. I've wanted to speak to an adult, but there's always that fear of the unknown. Will I be able to understand them? Will I be disappointed in the glimpse into Samantha's future? Will it be awkward? I can only say how grateful I am for the opportunity Jennifer gave us yesterday. She is an amazingly articulate, bright, self-aware woman, and I was absolutely drawn to her. I was disappointed when she had to leave. She asked a lot of questions about Samantha's development, and spoke about some of her own. She said that she was glad to see I kept Samantha, as her mother had chosen to keep her. It makes me teary-eyed to think about that. I would never have had it any other way. She, too, had had heart surgery to correct a defect when she was young. I asked her if she works, and she said that she has been working at one of the government agencies (I think it might have been the EPA, but I can't remember now) downtown for the last 10 years (and just received her 10-year pendant!) and takes the bus and the metro every day to get to work. I wish I could remember more of the conversation, but just the overall feeling of 'fulfillment' for having spoken to her is mainly what remains. I told her and her mother about the DSANV picnic in 2 weeks, and hope to see them there. I expressed my happiness at having met her, but wish I had told her what an impression she had made on me. I hope she knows anyway.

1 comment:

Jess said...

My daughter is 10 and I have only been her mom for about a year and only knew her for a year before that. I think a lot about what kind of future she could have and more often then not I get plain freaked out! I suppose in many ways I am a new mom like you were when your daughter was only 1. It's nice to have others validate some of my feelings. Thanks for sharing!