If I've heard it once, I've heard it hundreds of times...."Laynee was so lucky to be in your family." First, I believe with everything in me that "luck" had nothing to do with it. Laynee was lovingly placed into our home by a God who is all powerful and all knowing. While she may have been blessed to be in our family, the greatest blessing was ours and the very fact that we had the honor of loving and caring for this truly remarkable little girl. Laynee's abscence and the finality of death leaves a wide aching hole in the hearts of many. Not only Jim and I and the kids, but cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and friends, many who knew her and even some who did not, mourn and grieve for her.
I miss Laynee and the sunshine and joy that seemed to radiate from her presence. I also miss Down Syndrome for it is this, which some may think of as imperfection, that was the very essence of who Laynee was. While her wide spaced toes, slightly flat forehead, slanted eyes, low set ears, low muscle tone and the line across her hands were trademark symbols of an extra chromosome, so also was the joy, peace, happiness and simplicity that emanated from her. What we gave to Laynee cannot begin to compare to what she gave to us and everyone fortunate enough to know her.
Since becoming Laynee's mommy, I have had the honor of coming to know many others who parent these very special children. I have witnessed grief in those who are newly aware of their child's diagnosis. Most parents who learn that they have been or soon will be touched by Down Syndrome, mourn the child that they thought they would have. They fear the challenge and uncertainty of life with special needs. It is not long before these same parents often learn that their little one is a unique, priceless treasure and that they have more to offer than anyone can ever imagine.
A few weeks ago we attended the Down Sydrome Buddy Walk, in which over 100 friends walked in memory of Jalayne Grace. There, we saw the slightly unsteady gate, the radiant smiles, and so many other traits that link them together in a category of their own, a category to which Laynee belonged. We learned that there is nothing quite like the Down Syndrome hug. The soft, squishiness that comes from low muscle tone is imposssible to resist. Hugs, love and affection are given freely, without hesitation. These children are free of pretenses. They are 100% true and pure. What you see is what they are. They have no need to hide emotion, whether happy, excited, sad or angry: it is exactly what it is. Anyone who knew Laynee had the beautiful oppurtunity to see love in it's purest form. Laynee took love, knew love, gave love without inhibition. She held back her love from no one and expected everyone to love her in return.
When we got in the van after the Buddy Walk, 17 year old Jamee said, "When I am a mom I WANT to have a baby with Down Syndrome." This simple statement is a small testimony of just a part of the treasue that Laynee was to all of us. I cannot begin to understand our great God and why He took our baby long before we were ready to give her back. However, I do know, without question, why He gave her to us. He needed us to learn from her.
CS Lewis once said that "grief is like the sky, it covers everything." In recent weeks, our family has found that this is so very true. It seems that there is no right or wrong way to travel this path of grief. I have created this blog in hopes that some day we will be able to look back on our journey and see written proof that our great God never leaves us. God is good all the time.