Saturday was World Down Syndrome Day! Every March 21 we make it a point to celebrate my little sisters who have that extra chromosome to love on. Down Syndrome’s proper name is Trisomy-21 – a genetic condition with three copies of the 21st chromosome instead of traditional 2 (the best things come in three’s, right?) - 3 copies of the 21st chromosome. 3/21, get it?
This year was going to be even bigger with GiGi’s Playhouse, a Down Syndrome Achievement center we spend a lot of time at, putting on a Sock Hop to celebrate the day. You know that saying, “Man makes plans, and God laughs.” Well, I doubt God was laughing, but our plans were forced to change.
With COVID-19 spreading quickly through Michigan and with the well-being of our loved ones of the utmost importance, the dance was cancelled. We couldn’t be stopped from celebrating though. First thing in the morning I got on a Duo call with my sisters and wished them Happy Down Syndrome Day, and then promptly received this picture of them. Don’t they look proud?
I keep reading different hashtags or mentions of us all being “alone together” and it always seems to warm my spirits. Alone together. Being alone is normally associated with being lonely, but this time it is different – because we’re doing it together. Yes, I miss being able to be in the physical presence of my friends and family but luckily, we live in 2020. Technology is making it possible for us to connect – hopefully steering clear of a Westworld reality.
My husband and daughter have been home since March 13 – the day the schools were shut down. He is an elementary school teacher and she is a first grader. His hobby gets him out of the house with his friends multiple times a week, and being an only child, she normally gets her kid play at school. So being stuck at home hasn’t been easy for them.
A few days ago, when Esther was feeling extra stir crazy, we set up our Echo Show on her desk in her room and set up a play date with a friend of hers. They started off by doing an art project together. Her friend had a book that showed, step by step, how to draw a fox. She’d hold up the book to show Esther the step they were on, and they would each complete that step from their respective homes. From there I know they played pretend, painted some pictures, and just chatted. Four hours later, we had to call her for dinner. Every day since, she has spent time with her friends and family playing over video chat. While I hope this isn’t the new norm, it has been a real blessing to have access to.
As for me, I’ve never been much of a phone talker but that is changing. In the past week or so, I’ve been eager to call my friends, family, and clients to check up on them. To see how they are holding up and just generally catch up. It has been refreshing. Hearing how people are adjusting to the new world we’re living in and how they are finding ways to help others. My neighborhood group through Church met on a zoom call after the online service on Sunday to discuss ways we can still be serving people while adhering to the social distancing rules. One woman was making sure to check in on her students often, another was connecting with their elderly friends, family, and neighbors to see if they needed anything.
The neighbors to the right of me are a nice elderly couple and I was struggling to find a way for me to offer my help to them. I didn’t want to knock on their door – that would put me much closer than the 6’ guideline recommends. I didn’t have their phone number and I hadn’t seen them outside since this all began. On that zoom call someone said, “why don’t you put a note in their mailbox with your phone number so they can call you if they need anything.” So, I grabbed one of my favorite cards (drawn by my little sister Jayne you can see up above,) wrote a little note inside, and ran it over to their house. Last night I got a phone call from her telling me how nice it was and how lucky they felt to have neighbors who are looking out for them. They didn’t need anything at the time, but we’ve opened the window for them to call us if they ever should.
Though this has been an adjustment, I feel encouraged. People are being dealt some difficult hands but still banding together so that when we come out on the other side, we are stronger and better than ever. If there is any uncertainty you’d like to talk though or questions you may have, please contact me. Although you may find that I call you first! Remember, we may be alone – but we’re doing it together.
Stay healthy and stay happy!