I remember the sunrise the morning after Kate was born. The morning after I found out in the delivery room that she had Down syndrome.
It seemed brighter than usual, filtering in through the hospital blinds and falling upon the tray table next to my hospital bed.
My eyes stung from tears and lack of sleep. My husband was asleep on the couch in the corner of the recovery room. And sweet Kate — just hours old, was now snuggled into a UV bed in the NICU, tanning away her jaundice.
I remember the sunrise because it was a reminder that the rest of the world was still going: driving to work, stopping at Starbucks, jogging. They were going on about their lives as if nothing had changed. When for me, it felt like everything had changed. And the sunrise just illuminated that feeling.
Looking back on that feeling, I felt, in a way, like a newborn myself. The world I was now in was somewhat new; a little scary. With fresh eyes opening, I blinked at the bright light of this new place wondering what it would hold — and in many ways I wanted to go back to the familiar safe place that held me so snug just a day before.
But that’s the thing about being born (or re-born): now it’s time to live big!
And so, day after day for those first few months, I put one foot in front of the other as I learned what it meant to have a child with Down syndrome, as I learned what it meant for our future, as I learned what Kate would mean to us.
And you know, when you put one foot in front of the other for a little while, before you know it you’re walking. And then before you know it, you’re picking up a pretty good pace that turns into a full-on run. Not away from something — but toward something bigger, something better.
I remember the sunrise after Kate was born because it was a reminder that as long as we’re here, the sun will always rise to light the way.
And that often times, the very things that knock us off our feet are the same ones that teach us how to run stronger, how to breathe deeper — and how to head more purposefully toward the path that’s meant for us.