Our Friends With Down Syndrome are Joy Spreaders. Just Because.

There are so many stressed faces out there. People cutting each other off to get there first because their agenda is more important. Grumbling waiting in line at the store. Arguing over who had less sleep. What a silly thing to want to win the battle on! That said, I have no idea what these people are going through. Some struggles are all too real. But in some respects, especially in very stressful times, I wish we could all find it in our hearts to lighten up a little. To focus on a slice of gratitude, no matter how small. I do my part to flash a smile just because. And I’m always very thankful for the people that lighten my day when I need it. A simple smile in passing, a friendly conversation in the grocery line, a stranger holding the door open; little reminders to me how many things there are to be grateful for. But, somehow, someway, when Wil is with me on these public outings, he brings gratitude to a higher level just with his presence. He notices small things, and I think that’s his secret. He lives life in a constant state of awe. The things we barely see anymore because we see them every day are always made anew with him. His joy is raw, his feelings authentic. His emotions are so refreshingly open and real, and that is what makes him so darn infectious. (When Wil eats ice cream or a chocolate donut, he says, “mmmmm” with every bite. He always says, “please,” “thank you,” “you are welcome,” and he means it.)

When I go to the coffee shop or to the grocery store, basically anywhere with Wil, he’s like a joy spreader and he doesn’t even need to smile (though he usually does). It’s something about the way he holds himself, or maybe even the energy surrounding him. Whatever it is, it’s like a magic happy-making force. Immediately upon seeing him, strangers completely lighten up. Frowns turn around and I feel the surrounding energy open and brighten. There really is something magical about our friends with Down syndrome.
Sure, Wil needs extra care but I would never, ever qualify this as a burden. Though I’m raising him to be independent, there is a part of me that secretly hopes he can live with me forever. He is a happy-happy-joy-joy spreader. If you tell Wil life is not butterflies and rainbows, he will go out tirelessly looking for them to prove you wrong. He focuses on what can be over what can’t. Not because someone told him to, it’s just what he prefers to do. Sure, we have our stubborn I-don’t-want-to-so-I’m-going-to-sit-right-here-forever-and-not-budge times. I’m not saying he is perfect. I’m just saying life is really, really good with him around.
It’s quite ironic how Down syndrome is seen as a burden when I see how easily Wil’s presence lifts burdens on a day-to-day basis.
Life is not easy in this politically-charged, fast-paced, high-wired social media driven climate. We tend to quickly and easily shut down another’s belief system different than our own and be in such a hurry we never notice things around us. Wil is an example of how beautiful being just who you are with what you have right now is. There is no right or wrong here, there is only the universal sight of kindness and joy. Loving what you love, seeing the old in a new light, sharing a smile just because, and when there are no rainbows or butterflies in sight, making a way to find them. P.S. If you were wondering Wil’s political stance, he remains firm in his choice of Doc McStuffins for president.

When you forget your smile, lose your patience, or can’t seem to find a slice of gratitude, remember Wil’s to regain yours. And then the next best thing to do is to share your smile with someone else. Just because.

Beautiful Wil

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