I read your interview. Maybe I should congratulate you on becoming an internet sensation. Every time I look at social media, I see your face.
I understand the desire to have the perfect family. The soccer games, the parent-teacher conferences, the birthday parties, the white picket fence. Who doesn't want perfectly healthy and able-bodied human beings to pass on those family genes? I commend your wish, I really do.
You said not to judge you. You told people to walk a mile in your shoes...
You probably expect me to be angry. I was at first. You made me cry. You made my blood boil. You made me curse, and you probably don't want to know what I would've done if I had seen you on the street.
You see, Mrs. Relf, I've walked many, many miles in your shoes. Twice, in fact. My shoes switch from Down syndrome to cystic fibrosis throughout the day. They hurt, don't they? Those shoes are uncomfortable and ragged. Maybe not as fancy as you'd like. You'd rather have the sensible but beautiful ones, right?
I'm really sorry you think God gave you the wrong shoes.
I thought that at first, too.
I cried probably like you did 47 years ago when Stephen was born. Professionals told me he would be a burden; that he would never be like his peers. They said they were sorry and I bought it. They said the same thing about my daughter.
You believe you missed out on having an abortion. That, if you had it to do all over again, you would've ended Stephen's life.
The way I see it, Mrs. Relf, you made the same choice with or without the abortion.
For the last 47 years, you've chosen to ignore the beautiful aspects of Stephen.You labeled him like most of the world does. You bought into the lie that his life has no purpose. You've chosen to suffer through those uncomfortable shoes instead of picking up some glitter and Dr. Scholls insoles. Sure, it wasn't as easy as going to Planned Parenthood, but it could've been done.
That's the difference between you and me. My shoes are getting pretty comfortable now, but only because I've chosen to make them that way.
I'm not mad at you anymore. Actually, I wish I could meet you.
Maybe someday we can have coffee and talk about our shoes. You bring yours and I'll bring the cushion and glitter. It's not too late to make them a little more comfortable.
Jesus loves you and I do, too.
Give Stephen a hug. I bet he's really good at it.
Oh and P.S... Happy Down Syndrome Awareness Month!