Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Boy Named Josh

We went to the zoo today, Dan, the kids, and me. Dan and I were nearly giddy at the thought of sharing with the kids giraffes, lions, and elephants. And our intuition was right. The kids LOVED everything they saw--lemurs, warthogs, porcupines...everything. But we had no idea what was waiting for us in the dolphin exhibit.

As we walked in, there was a young man sitting in one of the observatory windows, sitting along with a young woman. Immediately, we noticed his beautiful almond-shaped eyes, but even more so, his huge welcoming smile and greeting. Josh has Down syndrome. We started talking with the couple, and though Josh's words were difficult to understand, this mama's heart was taking in every word. Thoughts like, "He can talk. He's independent. He's healthy. He's LOVING," ran through my mind. Josh is magnetic. For fifteen minutes we listened to him talk about the dolphins and his hope to wear a wet suit and possibly swim with them.

And as if he didn't already have my heart, I knelt down with Bear and Lila (who were crawling all over the window seat and Josh) to have Josh look me square in the face and say, "You're really fine and lovely." I couldn't respond with words...only a hug was appropriate, and in that hug, I was suddenly thrust forward twenty years and realized that my little boy will never outgrow his mama's arms. Josh can hug. It's not one of those, "Well, it was nice seeing you" kind of hugs. Just like Bear, he melts into your arms and doesn't let go.

If you're a close friend of mine, you know that I often joke while hugging you and say, "Don't ever be the first to let go of a hug," thus making you hug me as long as I want to hold you. You can say so much through a hug, and Bear, who doesn't speak yet, has communicated more clearly through his hugs than many of us ever do with our words. Josh reminded me of that today.

We said our good byes and eventually left the dolphin exhibit. Throughout the day, we spotted Josh in different areas of the zoo, always, always bringing joy to the people he was interacting with. I couldn't help but think of my prayer for Bear while I was still carrying him as an unborn baby...that he would bring love and joy to everyone he ever meets.

4:00 came and the zoo was closing, so we sat outside the gate and had a snack with the kids before heading home. As we exited, I spotted Josh in the gift shop, dancing with his friend. I smiled. I couldn't help but look for him while we enjoyed our snack with the kids. And then he came.

And he hugged me. And wouldn't. let. go. Josh held me for ten minutes while we talked with Kirby, his friend and now home-health assistant. He whispered that he loved me and would miss me. And patted my back. And got misty-eyed when I did the same. Our hearts spoke to each other as mine told his of the hurt it's experienced due to Bear's diagnosis, and his told mine, "Look at how great it is." Mine told him how much it needed to meet him today, and his told mine, "It will be ok."

I thought I was going to the zoo today to show my kids the elephants. Thank goodness it was to meet Josh.
Post a Comment