Since the moment I first held Ellie I knew, there is something calming about this girl. It’s an aura she possesses, a skill beyond her age. And more and more, I see this impacting others, not just those within our family, the ones that know what she’s overcome, who can hold her and hear her laugh, but strangers who know nothing but a visible glow radiating from her presence. An example, yesterday I took Ellie to Costco, just us while Mya was at school, to quickly pick up a few things. I entered the store, holding Ellie in my arms and a blanket to help her sit in the shopping cart. A man saw me approaching the carts and kindly offered me his, I thanked him and began settling Ellie in with her blanket. While he went to get another cart his wife stood by me, gazing at Ellie. This has happened before, in fact everywhere we go people almost seem drawn to her. She smiled at Ellie as Ellie looked back. “This baby is beautiful,” she said. I proudly smiled as Ellie continued to return the woman’s direct gaze. I’d be silly not to recognize that most people enjoy looking at babies, but this moment seemed like more, the smile on the woman’s face, Ellie’s calmness as if she was giving a piece of it to someone else. “She really is so beautiful,” the woman said again as we left to begin our shopping. Moments like this occurred several times throughout our Costco outing on a very busy Friday afternoon. Three people told me Ellie had made their day. The woman checking us out looked into Ellie’s bright blue eyes and said, “there is something very wonderful about you, I can just tell.” I got into my car feeling proud and happy that in the span of 30 minutes Ellie had given happiness to so many people. I’m actually a bit of an introvert and people continuously approach me with Ellie, or smile longer than expected as they walk past. A woman at a park stayed with us for 15 minutes the other day commenting on Ellie’s smile while her son ran circles around the field. There are times during these exchanges where I want to tell them Ellie has Down Syndrome. I want to say, do you know how lucky you are to have just met a child with Down Syndrome, do you know that part of that happiness you are feeling is something extra in Ellie. I stay silent, what if they don’t want to know that she just had heart surgery, or that this little girl works so hard to overcome obstacles, what if that’s too much information for a stranger. Some day they will know. For now I’ll let them wonder what it was about that baby that held their glance for longer than they expected. I’m slowly learning how to be an advocate, a role I didn’t know I’d have. I’m learning how to help show the world the wonders of Down Syndrome. Determining which situations allow for more information. Ellie’s already doing the work for me, teaching us you can make someone’s day with a smile.
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