I don't think I've ever told this story to anyone.
While Rachel was in the NICU at Brenner Children's Hospital, Stephen and I would go down to their cafeteria to eat quite often. There was a woman who most every day went around and cleaned the tables. She would remove trash, spray down the table and wipe them off. She had Down syndrome.
I felt like that was a cruel thing for life to do to me. As if it was shoving the obvious in my face saying, "this is what will become of your daughter." What made it worse was this woman looked unhappy. She did her job with no joy or even pride, it seemed. I did not like her immediately and I hated each time I had to see her but at the same time I would glace sideways at her looking for clues to how my daughter would be. I could not even smile at her.
I don't know why this has stuck with me, this woman who worked at that cafeteria. Sometimes I sit and try to think of why she was there at the same time Rachel was. Why I was shown this person who seemed so unhappy. What would have happened if I had smiled at her or talked to her? Loving Rachel for three and a half years has opened my heart more than I thought possible. I wish I could go back to that cafeteria and find that woman and say hello and engage her in conversation. I hope she has found a job that makes her happy.