Well, the day has finally come. The moment I dreaded ever since I found out that my son had Down syndrome.
Today while I was at work, I received a message from someone I hadn’t heard from in years.
Someone who, at one point, I considered a friend. I assumed he was messaging me to catch up after many years.
Instead I opened it up to read this:
“Your kid looks really handicap. That’s awful. What the hell happened…”
I felt like I had been slapped across the face.
I read the message 10x over, I could not believe how someone could write something like this.
I knew this moment would come one day and today was the day.
What was I going to say to this person?
I was hurt. I was angry. I was shocked. How could someone be so ignorant, so blind as to not see how these words could hurt.
Cooper is almost 2 years old, and in that short amount of time he has taught me to love in a capacity that I never knew was possible. I’ve learned acceptance of others and to celebrate people for their differences. His diagnosis has also taught me to have thick skin & to understand that people will say hurtful things, but that it is usually out of ignorance, and not to purposely hurt someone.
So, when I read this comment from my old “friend” and the mama bear in me wanted to come out, to tear this guy apart, I held back.
I told him how I felt, but I didn’t use every cuss word I was thinking in my head or hurt him like he had just hurt me.
I took a deep breath and wrote back:
“Wow. That is probably the most awful thing I have heard anyone say to me or say in general. My son was born with Down Syndrome. So yes, he does have a disability. But he is a beautiful individual with more compassion and love then you seem to have. I am shocked by your words. For future reference- do not say something like that to anyone else. Very hurtful.”
It took everything in me not to attack him like he had just attacked my son.
I had always wondered what I would say to the first person who made a rude comment to me about Cooper, and now I know.
After I had a cry, I found myself wanting & needing to do more, to say more, to get out my feelings.
I wanted to use this experience as an opportunity to advocate for my son.
I started this blog a few months after Cooper was born, to reach out to the people around me and share our journey.
To shed light & bring awareness to the word Down Syndrome.
I wanted to touch people with my honesty and bring about real change. I wanted people to see what Down Syndrome really is like, and how it is beautiful & challenging, not scary.
I have still been sharing Cooper with whoever wants to tune in, but I have not written anything in almost a year...
However, this comment towards Cooper has shown me that there are some moments when I truly do need to speak up.
I will never stop advocating for my son.
This world has so much to learn from him, from our journey and from others on the same journey as us.
To finish, I just want to say, the real handicap here lies within the person who sent me this message & his inability to see the ignorance of his words.
The disability lies within him & the lack of compassion and understanding he has for those that are different than him.
I am sad that this person cannot recognize Coopers joyful heart & kind spirit but would rather point out how his physical features indicate a disability.
I am sad that he is not open minded enough to realize that my son can teach him something more valuable than he could ever teach my son.
Cooper can teach a love, joy and compassion that has no limits. He does not judge.
The person I am truly sad for is this individual that felt the need to point out my son’s disability rather than recognizing his intelligence & beautiful heart.
My sincerest hope is that one day, he will truly understand the weight of his words.
I hope he gains an understanding to help bring about a change in the world, so that one day when people look at Cooper, they will only see him for his ability.