Fifty-six years ago today, a little blond- headed, blue-eyed baby girl was born to my mom and dad. Her name was Donna. She was the first child born to my mom and dad, and she was born with Down’s Syndrome. The doctor encouraged my mom and dad to institutionalize her. They were young and he didn’t think they ought to be “burdened” with a Down’s Syndrome child. My mom and dad summarily dismissed his recommendation, brought her home and loved her until her death just nine short years later.
I was three years old when my sister Donna died. Thus my memories are pretty sketchy. But from what I have been told, my sister really loved me. After all, she was a 7-9 year old girl and I was a “living” doll to play with. Growing up in my family, I was very aware that I had an older sister who died as a child, but I was too young to grasp the depth of the loss. Now that I am a parent of four children myself, I can better understand the depth of pain and loss my parents must have experienced. When each of my four children turned nine years of age, I contemplated what it would be like to lose them which made my heart break for my mom and dad.
But on this day that marks the 56th year of my oldest sister’s birth, there are a few things I know.
- I know my mom and dad must have a greater desire and motivation to go to heaven today than they did before Donna ever entered their lives. Won’t heaven be a wonderful reunion?
- I know that a person’s value is not measured in what they accomplish in life, but by in whose image they are made. Due to Donna’s mental shortcomings, she would have never been “normal,” but she was made in the image of God; her innocence was a daily reflection of God, and she taught others to love like God.
- I know that the imperfection in Donna’s body wasn’t nearly as glaring or noticeable as the imperfections in the souls of many “normal” people.
Happy Birthday, Donna.