Today, while waiting in line at Target with my little man, my gaze landed on two shoppers behind me:
A kind-looking, middle-aged woman and her 19-year-old son, Joey.
Joey wore a green sports cap for a team which I can no longer remember. He had on a green and white striped shirt. He helped his mom unload the groceries and then, once bagged, helped put them back in the cart. He waved at me when I said hello to him and said very strongly, “Tarrrrget,” as if to remind me where we were.
He wore glasses and scratched his nose and enjoyed his mother’s company and as they were leaving I said to her, “Excuse me?” She stopped and smiled – the way you do when total strangers stop you in large department stores.
“Does he have Down Syndrome?” I asked, cautiously. I still don’t know what the rule is on asking about things like this – and what if he didn’t have Down Syndrome but something else – and I was moderately concerned about offending the poor woman, but obviously not enough to keep my mouth shut.
She answered, “Yes, he does.” And I responded, “I have a 3 month old with Down Syndrome.”
At that moment, her eyes softened and she held my gaze with a warm smile. It was as if we were both part of a secret sorority and she was an old pledge member. She asked me a few questions and before leaving, softly said:
“Welcome to your beautiful journey.”
Then she asked my baby’s name – to which I replied, “Kate.” And she said, “That’s my name, too.”
And off they went – Kate and Joey. Two not-so-strangers in Target.
Joey pushed the cart out the automatic doors into the sunlight and my baby boy, wearing his “I’m a Big Brother” shirt, leaned over to gently hug me, as if to say: “Mama, we’re in this beautiful journey together.”