November 6, 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Today we got the call we had been dreading. John's father passed away this afternoon, surrounded by his wife and children. I am thankful he was so loved as he left us.

As I scramble to make last minute travel arrangements, I think about some of the past trips I have taken with my kids. This trip will not be quite as easy as others. Since our move to rural CO, getting anywhere is not an easy task. For this trip, we will drive three hours to a hotel in Denver, spend the night, get up at 4:30 the next morning, catch a flight to Detroit, switch to another flight to Chicago and arrive about 20 hours after we leave our house. The return home is similar.

I am not complaining by any means. This is really a trip of love and respect for an incredible person who was, and always will be, a big part of our lives. I am glad that John was able to be with his dad when he passed. I am looking forward to the opportunity to share his memories with all our friends and family on Monday.

Back to traveling - this may sound weird, way too mystical, or just plain nuts. I always feel safe with Alex, particularly when we travel. The reason is very simple and goes back to a single experience. When Alex was little, we were on a very bumpy airplane ride. I never felt anything quite like this, before or since. It was one of those rides where the flight attendants fell on the passengers and yelled for everyone to buckle up. The turbulence was so unexpected we had no warning or preparation. Alex was sitting with me, and I held her as tight as I could. The strangest thing happened, though, Alex looked at me with her big eyes, laughed with glee and she calmed me.

Most people might tell me, that small children like motion, and Alex was probably having fun. I might agree, except for this feeling I got as we landed. I arrived with the realization that Alex was protected; she was our lucky charm who would keep us out of harm's way.  This sense of safety has proven true in other circumstances. We have made it through car rides in awful snow storms, crazy rain storms and floods. I have not tested trains yet, so for now I will just assume this is also valid. I recognize this is wacky – but it is true.

I always look forward to travelling with Alex. I have no anxiety about our long jouney. I believe that we have Alex in our lives for a reason. I go back to  the inconclusive prenatal testing we did. It is almost unheard of to fail one of these tests, let alone two.  I know something bigger than me intervened. Alex was meant to join our family, and we were meant to have her. She protects us and we keep her safe.

I have not figured out the "why" yet, despite constant searching. Will she change the world? Will we create a better world for her? Can we create a better future for young children with down syndrome? What have I done well? What should I do differently? I could go on.....

I just do not know right now. I hope one day I will. So, for now, we live day to day, with many triumphs and many challenges. We prepare Alex for the future and continue to dream for her. I know we are protected and Alex is safe. She is our magic. Now isn’t that a little crazy?

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