Coffee date

I had a coffee date today with two fantastic ladies, both inspiring in their own ways. Here in my living room.

Except there was no coffee.
And I’ve never met one of the ladies.
And the other one was nearly 500 miles away.

Some crappy coffee date, huh? Nah. Pretty special actually.

This afternoon, my friend Nicole and I participated in a webinar hosted by the National Down Syndrome Society featuring Kelle Hampton, author of the memoir Bloom and blogger at Enjoying the Small Things, which has given me support and courage from the first day I found her blog nearly two years ago.

Kelle gave her introduction as I sat with a Cherry 7Up, not a coffee, holding my little girl while the Little Man slept upstairs. I was transported in that moment, maybe something to do with hearing Kelle detailing her daughter Nella’s birth and the journey her family has been on and maybe something to do with holding a little baby that I love more than anything else in this world (except for her big brother). I was transported to a time when I was scared, frustrated, angry and so hurt. A time when I thought a crappy hand had been dealt to my son before he even had a chance to shuffle the cards himself.

But today, just like that day in August of 2010, Kelle’s words comforted me and Nicole’s presence, albeit over the Internet, offered me a beautiful unspoken support.

I was like a little schoolgirl trying to type the frenzy of questions in my mind onto the screen as quickly as possible before I forgot them, before I thought of something else, all the while listening to Kelle’s wisdom and imagining dozens of other DS moms and their supporters shaking their heads in agreement and yielding their coffee cups up in the air for a virtual “clink.”

Nicole and I passed 50 e-mails back and forth to each other in that hour.
“I love that photo…” one read as a black-and-white photo of a beautiful girl came on our screens.
“That was a great question…” another one offered.
“Here come the tears…”
“I love you…”

A lot of my worry lately has been on what Down Syndrome means for Addie. The little girl who was born into a family surrounded by but not engulfed in it. The little girl who will have to adapt to scheduling around her brothers’ therapy appointments and whatever else follows next year. The little girl who will one day be lectured on her and her friends using the “R” word or making fun of other kids.

And Kelle touched on some of that today. On the balancing of her two children, on the ways she talks about Down Syndrome with her older daughter, on the ways she is advocating and spreading the word about her journey.

It gave me motivation (should I remind you now about our ongoing fundraiser to help benefit the National Down Syndrome Society, available for your viewing pleasure here…?) and a much-needed shot in the arm of courage.

Nicole and I joked afterwards about all of the other things we should have been doing instead of hanging out at a webinar and typing e-mails — her, packing for a big move and me, organizing before I go back to work. But I know neither of us would have traded this experience for anything in the world.

From Nicole:

There have been 2 people that have really inspired me in this crazy world that we live in. That just make me want to LIVE and do something crazy with this “wild and precious life”. Kelle’s one of those people. The other was sitting right there with me today in that webinar, albeit 498 miles away…..

And then, for some nerdy reason, I decided to send a quick e-mail to Kelle, thanking her for her inspiring words and for sharing her journey with Down Syndrome with so many people. And just minutes later, I had a new message in my inbox.

From Kelle:

Thank you so much for these kind words. For any speaking event or webinar or interview, etc. my measure of success is always “did it feel like we were having coffee at a table together?” Ha. Seriously, it is. And you said those very words. I’m so happy with how the webinar went and the questions that were chosen.

And then, after congratulating us on Zack’s walking (Yes, I bragged to her, too!), very powerful words that are really what it’s all about (whatever “it” is):

And it is so wonderful to know we’re all this together–that there are many of us figuring this out, one day at a time.

Life is good, so very good.

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