I’m one major event and just a few days away from Spring Break.
As many of you know, I’m an administrator at a small school in Hawaii, so it’s not a given that the next few weeks I’ll be at the beach watching waves, but I’ve prepared well to take a few days off, completing assignments in advance so I can, as a middle-aged man, do a little financial planning for my family’s future, train for another marathon, help my daughter get ready for third grade next year, and maybe, just maybe, take out my bassoon for the first time in eight years. I last played, and was actually taking lessons again, when I found out my daughter would be born with an extra chromosome.
The news stopped me in my tracks. Looking back, I wish I had kept right on going, but there was so much of the unknown that threw me off course. I didn’t know a lot about extra chromosomes until the last ultrasound, four months into the pregnancy, where we were told about how our child might be born — and then had to wait another few weeks for confirmation that would change the direction of our lives. Up to that point, I had also been playing some of my best tennis in years and running about 30 miles a week. I was in great shape until I received that chilling news during a New England winter.
And then our world changed. Except it didn’t. Our daughter is glorious, holding her own in second grade, physically strong, in so many ways just like another girl — with something extra.
I recently congratulated the mother of the 2018 Gerber baby, the first Spokesbaby with Down syndrome in the company’s 91-year history. He was chosen from more than 140,000 entries. Lucas’ mother wrote back and we are now friends. Recently, on Saint Patrick’s Day, she posted this message:
Why does the extra 21st chromosome stick to the cell when the fertilized egg begins its first cell division?
It can be compared to what happens in nature, to a field of clover. Usually, we see 3 leaves on each clover. Once in a while, however, we find a clover that has an extra leaf making it a four-leaf clover. We don’t know why Mother Nature decided to add that extra leaf; she just did.
There is no obvious explanation all of the clover plants grew in the same soil, were exposed to the same sun and rain, etc. Mother Nature just decided to add an extra leaf to one of the clover in the clover patch. This doesn’t make it better or not as good as the other clover it just makes it different. Some people even believe it brings a person good luck when they find a four-leaf clover.
My daughter brought me to wisdom, compassion and faith I never would have gained without her. It took some years, but we found the right home and community in the most beautiful place on earth because of her. She brings me luck every day. We adore her and I cannot imagine now my life without her.
So this Spring Break I’m going to breathe out a little bit and celebrate all the miles that lead us to where we’re supposed to be.