First there was Hope.
Alexandra Hope, my daughter, entered the world more than 12 years ago, her middle name given to remind us of what we’ve lost and what we must seek – hope for the future, for a life worth having lived, for peace now and always.
Then there was Grace.
Cecilia Grace, Alexandra’s cousin, entered the world this past week, her middle name given to remind us of beauty and joy, of the gift that is life and the need to embrace its challenges not with resentment, but with eternal thanks.
Hope and Grace, the only girls in a brood of male cousins on my wife’s side of the family. Hope and Grace, bookends for a family that has everything it needs and nothing more than it can handle.
Some families would be in shock after learning that its final grandchild — its niece, its cousin and daughter, the one who fought so hard just to get here – has Down’s Syndrome. Some would go into denial while others would look for something or someone to blame.
But not this family. Not even close.
For you see, Grace is the ultimate gift. With no disrespect to the lovely if not noisy boys in my wife’s family, we saved the best for last.
Grace is perfect. Grace is a “thank you” and a blessing, of which we’ll be reminded every time we say her name.
“Normal” is an illusion, a construct of misguided human desire for conformity. Grace is a reminder of what really matters and a symbol for a new future, one where ignorance is eradicated and acceptance is something you receive, not ask for.
Hope is how we should see the world. Grace is how we should treat the people in it.
Hope and Grace – two girls, bookends, cousins, symbols of virtue bonded by blood and unconditional love.
We all should be so lucky.