Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Beauty and a McDonald's Playland

The other day
I was with my kids at Mc Donald's (again).
My husband was gone for an 11 day trip,
and I was doing whatever I could to make the time easier.
This included a playland and happy meals.

And it seems in that sticky maze of tunnels and slides,
I'm usually led to something beautiful.

This day it was a little boy named Alex.
He had Down Syndrome.
And because I'm having a baby later in life,
I view children like this differently than I did in the past.
My heart doesn't ache with the hurt of their life,
but rather the promise.

We were the only ones in the playland that day,
me, my kids, Alex, and his big brother and girlfriend.
Sophie was singing from the Frozen soundtrack to Alex and asked him if he wanted to dance with her.
He didn't respond,
but followed her around anyway.
I thought: should our baby be born Down Syndrome,
our kids will never know life any differently.
The life this baby adds to our family,
will be the only life they ever know.
It will be the norm.

And my heart grew huge with this beauty.
A big sister asking a baby to dance,
singing songs,
asking him if he wants to build a snowman,
much like any other child.

I asked Alex's  big brother how old his brother was and he said: almost eight.
And then added: he's had a difficult time.
I thought he meant having Down Syndrome, and so I nodded,
but then he added: On December 11, 2012,
he was diagnosed with leukemia.
He continued: but he's been fighting it and right now he's doing okay...
It's harder, you know, with the Down Syndrome.

I looked at that little boy again and tried to understand
the how and why of justice when
this sweet boy, who already had so much stacked against him,
would be handed the further complication of cancer.

And in the muggy haze of a Mc Donald's playland,
I was not given an answer
to the justice questions of our world.

But I was a witness to this:
The first time Alex climbed to the top of the bright tunnels,
and rode a salty slide down,
he hopped off the lip of the ride,
looked at his brother
and threw his fist in the air.
With pride.
With joy.
And his brother threw his fist in the air, too.
And there they were,
celebrating something so tender
so vulnerable,
but so strong,
that it could only be described as Beauty.

And I think,
in that victory,
I saw something living and breathing and eternal,
more real than anything we can see or touch or feel.
I watched injustice shake with the promise of defeat.

And I heard the echo of a promise:
a little child will lead them.

I think that child will look a lot like Alex.

I burst with the promise of this hope.


  1. It's always with teary eyes that I read your heart.

  2. Even a year later, this post still makes me cry in agreement. One of my favorites...