A common thing we heard after Alea was born, was about her free pass into Heaven. I truly believe that kids with intellectual disabilities are guaranteed a spot in Heaven, but that spot is anything but free.
As I have learned more about Down syndrome, I am constantly reminded of my pre-Alea ignorance. I had no idea what these kids go through. As I have come to know more about families that have kids that have so many health issues that are due to their extra chromosome, I am in awe of the power of their spirits. In every case, these kids bring so much joy to their family as they set an unbelievable example of determination, endurance, and will power for the rest of us.
Along this walk I have encountered many little heroes earning their wings. There is the story of 6 year old Emma, who has diabetes and Celiac disease. She dances too! Stop and think about her story for a minute. Down syndrome, diabetes, or Celiac Disease are all life altering conditions by themselves. She has all 3! What bravery Emma shows as she deals with it. What an example of love her parents and siblings are to all, as they help Emma be her best. Although it has to be hard, I have never talked to her mother that she has not had a smile on her face. Emma is earning her wings.
Then there is Vada. An absolutely adorable baby girl. Over the last while, she has been experiencing frequent seizures. As I have followed her story, it is clear how stressful this is to her parents, yet they proceed forward with faith in God. Each day they face their new challenges head on hoping for the best for Vada as well as her other two siblings. Recently the seizures have been less frequent. It does not matter that her family attends a different religious affiliation than I do, their faith in God is undeniable and exemplary to me. I continue to pray for Vada and her family, and I would ask you to do the same. Vada is earning her wings.
These are just a two of the many examples of courage and faith that I have come across on this walk with our angel. As I type this inside of a sleep center, I am very aware that my challenges are minimal. Alea is currently hooked up to several wires as she tries to sleep so that the doctors can evaluate her O2 levels as she sleeps. It is not critical, just the doctors trying to make sure she is getting all the O2 she needs. Having been through a sleep study myself, I know it is not fun. Alea, however, is resilient and continues to bring a smile to my face as she deals with being poked and prodded with such bravery. I am glad she is my daughter and that her example is present daily in my life.
Here are some pictures of Alea earning her wings.