Today while I was at physical therapy with Champ, a new family walked in. A mother was tightly clutching a bundle of cloth, and at first it appeared that there was nothing underneath the blanket. As she came closer to the side of the room I was sitting in I saw that she was holding a baby—a very, very small baby.
The woman and her husband sat down a few feet from where Champ was getting his therapy, and they lovingly unwrapped their little girl. What I had thought was a very young baby turned out to just be a very small baby. She looked to be one or two months old, but she couldn’t have weighed more than 6 pounds. Her arms and legs were extremely thin and had splotches of red all over them. Her head was very small and shaped slightly irregularly. When I looked at her face I could tell that this little girl must be suffering from some sort of disease or syndrome or abnormality, and she reminded me so much of you.
She didn’t look like you, but she was just a little different and extra special like you were.
I found myself staring at this family of three, not because of the way the little girl looked, but because of the love that was there. The mother clapped her daughter’s extremely small hands and nuzzled her precious little nose. The father proudly snapped photographs on his cell phone as the physical therapist put his little one in a small wooden box—yes a box!—to help support her as they tried to get her to hold her head up.
Here in Taiwan you don’t see that many kids with special needs, especially ones that look like they have special needs. You were the first Trisomy-13 patient of most of your doctors and nurses, and so many of them were just shocked that we loved you despite your health issues. So when I saw this family I just couldn’t take my eyes off of them.
In this country you just don’t see that kind of love for these kinds of special babies.
I was so proud of them. I wanted to let them know that I was proud of them for taking their daughter out in public and taking her to physical therapy. I was touched that they weren’t ashamed of her when I know shame is a large part of this culture when it comes to children with special needs. I wanted to tell them that I know what they are going through, and that their love for their beautiful daughter is so touching.
I wanted to go over and give them a hug and tell them all about you, but I couldn’t. Oh, how I wish my Chinese was better! Instead I tried to show my feelings through the emotions on my face and I hoped that they would see that my stares were out of admiration and not out of disgust. I’m sure that those parents were used to having people stare, probably not so nicely, at their daughter and I really wanted them to know that I was not one of those people.
Seeing that family gave me hope for this country. Maybe more and more families like this one will decide to keep their precious babies no matter what their diagnosis. And maybe they will chose to love them, really love them, and treat them as they would any “normal” baby. Maybe in a few years stories like yours won’t be such a rarity.
I pray for the babies, born and unborn, who are sick in this country. I pray that their parents will see their worth and will be proud to love them like the family I saw today was. I pray that I will see this family again and I will be able to share all these thoughts that I have in my head.
Thank you, Sophia, for giving me a chance to experience love and gain empathy in an area of life that I might never have. Even though you have been gone for almost 9 months you still continue to teach me lessons and shape my life.
I love you so much.