Our youngest, Camille, turned 16 this past weekend. It has been a birthday week for her! She got to have lunch with her grandparents on Tuesday at Cracker Barrel, then a wedding of some friends from our church on Thursday evening, her sister came home from college for the summer Friday, and Saturday she has celebrated with a party with family. Any day or week that involves multiple celebrations where cake involved is a great week for Camille!
It is hard to believe she is 16. I have always lovingly called her “my shadow.” Pretty much anywhere I go she gets to tag along. We make a pretty good team. We have all learned to let our hair down and randomly skip, speak to strangers, give hugs generously, wave at people, and pretty much laugh and smile way more often.
Camille has taught us many lessons over the years.
- Cake and ice cream should be included in every celebration, small or large.
- Life is to be celebrated each day, therefore cake and ice cream should be involved daily.
- Hugs are free and important to everyone.
- Speaking to people as they pass you in the store is common courtesy.
- Smiling is not optional.
- When someone is crying, they need a hug and to cry with them.
- Shoes are optional.
- Greet people as if you haven’t seen them in a long time.
- Swinging is therapeutic.
- Moving slowly through life means you see more.
- Being in a hurry is way overrated.
- Laughing out loud is good for the soul.
- Carrying a baby doll in public is OK any time for any one.
- Flash cards are like potato chips, you can’t have just one, you literally need hundreds.
- Singing songs is good for the soul.
- You should always dance as if no one is watching.
- Barney songs and Sesame Street songs are good reminders for manners.
- Counting down to celebrations is exciting.
- Milkshakes are not optional.
- When people die, they are just sleeping, we’ll see them again someday.
- McDonald’s signs can be recognized from miles away.
- Chick-Fil-A serves milkshakes.
- Popcorn can be enjoyed most anytime of day.
- Getting and opening presents is important, what you get in them isn’t.
- People matter,all people.
- You should hold someone’s hand when crossing a street.
- You should hold someone’s hand walking just about anywhere.
- Sometimes we need time to learn something new and repetition is good.
- We all need help from time to time.
These are just a few of the life lessons learned over the last 16 years from Camille and Down syndrome. I am a better person from knowing her. My life has slowed way down and I see people and see their faces more than ever. I recognize their feelings and their attitudes. I pick up on their happiness or their sadness.
Camille has taught me empathy.
Camille has taught me about unconditional love.
Camille has taught me about mercy.
Camille has taught me about compassion.
Everyone is deserving of love, mercy and compassion, everyone. Everyone also needs to learn to slow down and enjoy cake and a milkshake now and then. You would smile more and be much happier.
God never promised us a perfect life, but instead showed us how to perfect our lives through showing others love, mercy and compassion.
We Love You!