It’s been 6 months since my boy took his last earthly breath. His final soft exhale…a sigh that broke my heart as it escaped his sweet lips, spoke volumes of a life well-loved and lived. I nuzzled his beautiful face that night, his little body tucked into my own, whispered words of love and admiration for a life that although too short, brought so much joy and purpose.
Early that same evening, the family all gathered around our wondrous boy, all 68 pounds of Down “syndromeness” battling to stay in the game. He never failed to bring out the best in us, lovingly examining a family that often felt inept in his presence. His usual loopy smile and elliptical blue eyes…innocent and knowing, ever hopeful, searched beseechingly at the loving company, mom, dad, brother, stepfamily and most loving caregivers, his left thumb up, pointing toward the kitchen for another spoon of ice cream. Hey…I’m waiting!
My Christopher had no sense of pending transition, this phase spoken softly by the arriving hospice angel a few hours earlier. He could leave tonight or in seven nights, she said, but this fragile son was surely parting. Her words of wisdom and wonder, the assurance of an expert in such matters, her keen and comforting knowledge that he would soon be on a rocket ship to heaven was soaked in. Her words were the salve for our broken hearts. Oh yes, she said, this boy is special. She had witnessed many such transitions and my boy was a guaranteed shoe-in to heaven. God was waiting for his special boy.
What a life with this son, what lessons he taught us all. He, a child that at first, I would have done anything to avoid having, a 6lb 8 oz destroyer of life I thought, a disaster of colossal proportion. I had begged and bargained at his birth in fervent prayer, make this be a dream, let me wake up and find a perfect baby and give me a life that I was meant to have.
And so, it was to be.
I was mother to a most perfect child. His extra chromosome bringing extra love. Here was an awesome child, ethereal in every sense, a son who steadfastly loved unconditionally.
My special boy, a non-judgmental, forgiving and loving little human whose kindness and bravery would demonstrate daily lessons in tolerance and generosity, a love for all mankind, and an unmatched charity of heart and spirit. To be with Christopher was to be a student in his university. The first lesson was to learn that kids like my son add a contentment of the heart that is more important than intellectual superiority. To be with him is to be in the presence of God.
I miss him every day. He is Christopher Smith, a child who changed his family and friends and an entire community for the better. He is Christopher Smith, a boy who inspired a Village to take care of its most vulnerable citizens. Christopher Smith, a child who taught his mom to become a disability fighter and currency finder. A son and a brother that we wouldn’t exchange for any other.