Approximately 92% of mothers who learn they are carrying children with Down’s Syndrome abort their child. The Daily Mail has an article by a deeply evil woman who bemoans the fact that she didn’t have that option:
Questions I couldn’t answer raced through my mind: Had I caused his disability? How terrible would his life be? What impact would it have on his brother Andrew, then only two? How on earth would Roy and I cope?
Perhaps you’d expect me to say that, over time, I grew to accept my son’s disability. That now, looking back on that day 47 years later, none of us could imagine life without him, and that I’m grateful I was never given the option to abort.
However, you’d be wrong. Because, while I do love my son, and am fiercely protective of him, I know our lives would have been happier and far less complicated if he had never been born. I do wish I’d had an abortion. I wish it every day.
If he had not been born, I’d have probably gone on to have another baby, we would have had a normal family life and Andrew would have the comfort, rather than the responsibility, of a sibling, after we’re gone.
Most people will think twice about attacking this woman because they will want to appear understanding. Taking care of a handicapped child is not an endless bowl of cherries, as I well know, and so most people who have not had that experience will be reluctant to criticize someone who has had that duty. Fortunately I have been in the category of having a handicapped child to care for, and how I wish, with all my heart, that I was still in that category. As faithful readers of this blog know, my beloved son Larry died of a seizure on May 19, Pentecost Sunday, last year. Due to his autism Larry and I never held a normal conversation. He could say yes and no, and single words, but that was usually all that he was able to do. He would never have been able to hold down a job. In many ways his life was not dissimilar to that of the man described in the article. Yet he was the light of our lives for my wife and me.
I guess the difference is in how we perceived our son and how the evil woman, I refuse to write her name, views her poor son. Larry to us was never just his autism. He was always a unique individual with his own personality. He was our great adventure. How I miss seeing him puttering about the kitchen fixing snacks, hearing him laugh, having Daddy readings with him each morning, outings with him where he would always position himself to be at my right hand. Did I wish he had not had autism? Sure. Did I ever bemoan his life because of the autism? Never! Like all our kids, he filled our lives with love and we were the gainers by that love.
At the conclusion of my son’s funeral mass, taking as my text Job 1:21: The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord., I read out this remembrance of my boy:
To those who did not know Larry well, it might be assumed that he was dealt a pretty poor set of cards in this life. Autistic, afflicted with seizures in his later years, and a brief life of 21 and three-quarter years. However, to those of us who had the great privilege of knowing Larry well, he was blessed with many gifts, just as his life was a blessing to us.
1. At his birth he was blessed with a twin brother, Donnie, who all Larry’s life would be his constant companion: playing with him, and caring for him and guarding him from harm.
2. He was blessed with two parents who loved him more than mere words can possibly convey.
3. He was blessed with a beloved baby sister, a loving grandmother and grandfather and a cherished godmother, all of whom helped guide his steps.
4. He was blessed with a wry sense of humor. I will never forget the lopsided smile on his face as a toddler as he pretended to touch the computer printer paper roll because he knew that would always get a rise out of Mom and Dad. His default expression was a smile.
5. He was blessed with a joyful zest for life, from swinging on swings much higher than they were intended to go, to grooving to music he liked, swaying back and forth and rocking his head, to closing his eyes as he savored the big hamburgers he loved. Life never grew stale or prosaic for Larry.
6. He was blessed with a bold spirit. At a year and a half he decided in May of 1993 that it would be a very good idea to walk to Renfrew Park without bothering to get permission from Mom or Dad! In his later years he was fond of midnight strolls, once again without telling Mom or Dad! One of my most cherished memories of Larry is him running ahead of the family like a gazelle, to Mass or to some other favorite destination. Life with Larry was an endless adventure, whether we wanted it to be or not!
7. He was blessed with self-reliance, as I can attest from picking up the remnants of late night snacks that he had fixed for himself in the kitchen after Mom and Dad went to sleep. Some of us march to our own drummer. Larry, ever a rugged individualist, marched to his own brass band.
8. He was blessed with a warm heart as the hugs he gave indicated.
9. He was blessed with a good mind, defying the odds of his autism to learn to read and to memorize long prayers.
10. He was blessed with a love of God. At Mass he said his prayers and always understood that Mass was important and solemn. His physical presence at Mass with my family ended with his funeral Mass, but not the presence of his spirit.
11. Above all, he was blessed by being the child of a loving God, who for His own purposes took him into His heavenly kingdom in the wee hours of Pentecost.
Larry enjoyed all these blessings, and he was a blessing to all who knew him, from the first day of his life to his last day. May the same be said of all of us when the tally of our days is reached. Goodby my son, until we meet again in the Kingdom of Love Eternal.
Christ gave us as His two great commands: Love God and Love our Neighbor. No one is more our neighbor than the children God gives us. Without this love, a pale reflection of the love that God has for each of us, we are but poor beasts indeed.