I have written, on many occasions, that before Annie I didn’t know life was capable of so much love. That Annie fills our lives to the brim with it; makes us feel like we’re swimming in it constantly. And she does.
But here’s the thing…I need you to know that Annie is just the source, the spark. The goodness and love others share with us when they meet Annie is the absolute explosion.
That’s how I feel today. Like my heart could explode from so much kindness, so much love. So much acceptance and understanding.
You see, I am one of those people that believes the world is made up of much more good than bad. Not an easy thing to believe when you turn on the news or watch the presidential debates and the nasty and hateful campaigns. Not easy to believe when hate and war and tragedy get all the attention. It’s easy to focus on the bad. Easy to see what we want changed and what we dislike.
But there is so much good all around us, too.
I see it all the time. It’s the kindness of a stranger chasing you down to return the wallet or briefcase you left on the bus. A group of students giving up their entire Saturday to clean up a neighborhood. A hug from an acquaintance after hearing of a loss. It’s holding the door for each other. It’s someone asking how you are and truly wanting to know and listen. It’s a stranger assisting with groceries or helping you up after a stumble. It’s a simple smile or hello.
It’s all the love that people who meet Annie bring into our lives. Their interest, love, concern, support and celebration of her is inspiring to witness. I am truly amazed by the showering of love that follows almost any encounter with Annie. It’s like she magnifies the good in people. Allows us to see that most people really are good and pure and true.
I remember worrying after Annie was born if people would accept her, would show an interest, want to be around her. I worried they would pity us. Being the disciplinary officer on campus isn’t always the most popular position for my husband. I worried that immature students would make fun of him and his disabled daughter. What a terrible thought to have had!
From the moment I brought her home everyone around her showed me I had nothing to worry about. The total and absolute acceptance and love everyone shows my daughter has allowed me to wholeheartedly trust in the good of people. When students meet Annie they accept and love her with nothing but open arms. Our students are far beyond immature. They would never say a negative thing, ever, about their campus baby. Because that is what she has become, an important part of their experience here in Rome an constant presence on campus. Each semester I am more blown away than the last by their reactions and interactions with her. They have reassured my belief. The world is filled with so much good. We just have to look around and notice it.
Last night I received this email from my husband which he shared with our families back home. In the subject line he wrote one word: BEAUTIFUL. The letter from the student blew me away and brought tears to my eyes.
This is a message sent out thru the JFRC listserv today about a student’s initiative brought about of his volition. Pedro is absolutely enamored of Annie and he wants to contribute the efforts of raising awareness at JFRC and beyond.
Dear Faculty and Staff of the John Felice Rome Center,
Tomorrow, the community of students have decided to declare Wednesday, October 17th as the JFRC Down Syndrome Awareness Day. The purpose of this event is to increase positive awareness of Down syndrome by engaging the JFRC community to empower individuals with Down syndrome, their families, and their community. Please join us on Wednesday, October 17th, by wearing blue or gold, the colors of Down syndrome awareness, demonstrating that we, the community of the John Felice Rome Center, stand in solidarity with those working to empower and educate our communities about Down Syndrome. Expect to see informational posters and flyers throughout the campus building detailing ways in which we can make our communities, both here in Rome and back at home, places where individuals with Down syndrome are accepted and embraced. I appreciate your support and generosity in advance.
AMDG, Pedro Guerrero, JFRC student
I had no clue, no part of the students’ plans to do something to raise awareness. And to top it all off during their very busy midterm week!
So you can imagine the tears I had to hold back today as Annie and I walked the halls of campus and saw that they were filled with gold and blue. Practically every staff member and student wore these colors proudly. Students stayed up extra late in the midst of their serious studying to make signs and ribbons to hang on every wall and door of the building. A slideshow of facts about Down Syndrome and photos of Annie played over and over in the cafeteria.
Today some 2oo people took time out of their day to be AWARE. To show support and to become informed about the realities, not stereotypes, of Down Syndrome. Most of these people are just beginning their exciting and carefree twenties. But they care. They care so much. And I will forever be grateful to them for today and everyday they take the time to LOVE my daughter. What a lucky little girl she is!
Though there is no way or words that could ever appropriately thank them for their support, I must say THANK YOU. Our students are our future. And when times have been so uncertain and ugly lately, today they made me realize our future, Annie’s future, is in the best hands. You are amazing and we’re so glad you are even a small part of Annie’s life.