To say that we have been blessed in the friendship department is an understatement. There is nothing better than raising your children alongside friends who really and truly love your children. I could go on and on about our wonderful friends, but that’s not what this is about. Talk about an excercise in restraint.
I remember very clearly the day that Charlie was born. I was at a mutual friend’s home watching their daughter so they could go and meet Charlie at the hospital. I barely knew Alex and Libby then. My friend came home, and with tears in her eyes, announced that Charlie had Down Syndrome. Her eyes weren’t teary because of his diagnosis but because Alex had told them that ‘we were all going to be better because of Charlie’s presence.’
I was in awe then at their strength and grace. I continue to be today.
Today, Charlie is one of my son’s most treasured friends (so are his brothers) and he is the closest we have to a nephew. Quite simply, we love and adore him.
When I think about how Charlie has impacted my life, I just feel grateful. I’m grateful to know such a sweet and kind boy and to be in the life of his family. I feel grateful that my children have a chance early in life to understand that each person is a gift from God and created in perfect uniqueness.
When I look at Charlie, I don’t see a label or a diagnosis. I see twinkling blue eyes and an impish grin. I see long limbs and big feet, tousled blonde hair and a child who is confidant because he rests in the saturated love of his family.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of watching him after school, and as he approached my front door, slipping off his coat and handing it to me, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the boy he is.
Our families have been friends since before you were born. I had no idea just how much I would be stretched personally in my thoughts and beliefs by your arrival into the Hodge family. I held you in your hospital room the day you were born with
many questions about what the future would look like with a diagnosis of Down syndrome.
You have proved to be a great teacher. Over the past 4 years you have taught me to slow down, celebrate the milestones in life no matter big or small, and to focus on a child’s abilities and not disability/diagnosis. I love watching you interact with family, I love your sense of adventure, and I love your contagious smile.
I did not have much experience with individuals with Down syndrome until you came into our lives. Children have a way of putting our hopes/fears/concerns into perspective. When Riley asked what Down syndrome meant last Christmas, I simply told her that “God gives us all different gifts and abilities and that things may just take a little longer for Charlie.” To our kids you are just Charlie….. their friend who they love. Not a diagnosis, not a disability. We are so blessed to have you in our lives. We love you Charlie!