This weekend was a whirlwind. Bailey was asked to participate in a couple’s wedding as an altar server. He had previously performed this task for twelve years and came out of retirement just for this special celebration.
The bride has been his community living support person for four years. Her tasks involve simply helping Bailey navigate anything that will help him succeed along with being a wonderful friend. Let me just say, he adores her. When her groom appeared in the picture, it was almost like watching puzzle pieces fit perfectly. His heart is as expansive as hers.
As we waited for the wedding to start, I was a tad reflective. Thinking about how Bailey may not experience this type of event for himself. Thinking about, that while his life is so full, I still experience some grief when attending celebrations such as this. But as the music started, I quickly pushed that aside because I wanted to be present.
I watched Bailey proudly carry the cross down the aisle as he whispers “almost there”. He told us later that the cross was heavy and he needed to give himself a pep talk. I watched him as he stood next to the priest as the bride and groom exchanged vows. His grin was palpable. His happiness was contagious. I watched as he leaves another imprint on people.
I didn’t record it. I didn’t take pictures. I experienced it. I absorbed the moment like a sponge. Replaying his smile and his joy about simply being included. Once we got to the reception, his dance card was full. Displaying his amazing dance moves while playing a tambourine. The bride’s sorority sisters taking selfies with him and never leaving his side. When we got home, he was still all smiles even though his feet hurt and he was tired from dancing for two solid hours.
During the reception, I had numerous exchanges with many of his dance partners that commented on how much fun he is and that they love hanging out with him. Friends, when he was born twenty-four years ago, this was my hope. To simply be included. And this weekend, I watched compassion, tolerance, and acceptance in action. That’s the world that I want to live in, so I bottled that in my heart. And when, life gets a little unruly, I will remember the day when these two hearts became one and how important they are to a young man with Down syndrome.