The words I don’t need anymore

I spent some time today — procrastinating (let’s call it was it is) — cleaning out the “bookmarks” in my web browser.

One particular folder I came across was labeled: “Down syndrome.”

It was created the week Kate was born. In that folder, I tucked away a handful of virtual pages I wanted to visit again — a blog post, an article, a random forum conversation — words that wrapped around me like a warm comfort blanket in those first worrisome days, words I wanted to keep close at hand to return to when needed.

It was those words that also inspired me to write my own words here as time went on. For I am mostly talking to myself first in this space: Take note, Lauren, of the great beauty in the world. And in reminding myself, I hope to perhaps encourage others who stop by. That is the great joy of writing: the benefit to both the writer and the reader. Stephen King says, “In the end, [writing is] about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over.”

Little by little, my grasp loosened around the comfort I needed so desperately at first and those bookmarks were soon forgotten. So when I stumbled upon them today, it was like discovering an old worn teddy in the attic trunk. With affectionate memory, I was reminded of how far I have come. I held the teddy in my hand, stroked its paw and set it back in its box. I didn’t need it anymore.

But every season of life has its own words we do need. I was able to easily let go of those stories that sustained me when Kate was a baby, but just the other day I practically accosted a mom who was with her teenage daughter who had Down syndrome at the grocery store. It was a particularly tiring day when I met the outgoing Becky and her mom in the paper goods aisle — and meeting them was just the comfort I needed. They were a beam of sunshine, a gentle smile, a dose of perspective for a weary heart.

I find that the things that are most comforting are small and surprising. Like a sister’s sweet essay that gave me hope four years ago — or chatting with Becky and her mom by the paper towels last week. There are no coincidences.

For in this great world where we are called to do great (and often hard) things, there is incredible grace. Our maker speaks to us words of love and comfort through strangers and friends and blogs and old teddy bears and books that sit on our nightstands, read and re-read with new words every time.

And though we may think that we have stumbled upon them, I think it’s quite the opposite. They have found us — exactly when we needed them.

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