There’s been a number of news stories recently about high school valedictorians going off script at graduation ceremonies.
Angela told me a story that tops them all.
This past weekend, Angela played piano at the wedding of an administrator at her alma mater. This woman mentored Angela’s robotics team and she enjoyed going back to her old stomping grounds. At the rehearsal Angela was intrigued by one of the participants in the wedding Mass. The groom’s goddaughter is 11 years old and has Down syndrome. Apparently, she is very close to her godfather. The bride told Angela that, often times, if her fiancé doesn’t answer his phone when they are out, the little girl will call her directly, demanding to speak to her godfather. Wanting to include her in the wedding, they asked her to read the Prayers of the Faithful.
She had something additional in mind.
During the wedding Mass, this girl climbed to the pulpit of the 160+ year old church. Her dress was a bit too long and she fiddled with it as she navigated the stairs. She stood in front of the microphone and successfully read the prayers. And then she went off-script.
Because the moment was too big an opportunity to let pass by. This little girl simply had to say something. She turned back to the microphone and said with gusto,
“I really love you guys! Let’s go have a dance party!”
Angela said the congregation burst into laughter. This will likely be a favored moment added to family lore. And it was probably one of the highlights of the day. A story like this warms my heart.
Since Becky’s birth, I have a heightened sense of those around me. I never really noticed special needs individuals the way that I do now. But I see them everywhere. Probably because I am looking. We joke that it’s like we all have a Down syndrome radar. Just last week, I saw a woman walking down the street, holding the hand of her son. We saw a little girl shopping with her family at the mall. Sam noticed a toddler climbing all over her dad at church. The common thread? All of these children have Down syndrome. They are just living their lives but we see them. We notice. And we can’t help but watch.
I suppose it helps all of us imagine a future Becky. Personally, it gives me hope that we will have a normal life with her one day. A new normal to be sure. But I look forward to simple things like a walk in the neighborhood, shopping at a store, wrestling to settle her down at church. People will probably notice us and maybe our presence will give someone else a bit of encouragement. Just like these families have given me.
The remark by that girl at the wedding is pure gold. An innocent moment that couldn’t be scripted because it came from the heart of a very special child. And I bet she danced with zest until the very last beat of the very last song. After Angela told us the story, one of the kids asked me, “Do you think Becky will do something like that one day?”
I certainly hope so.