NDSC 14: Friends

The tears first came when I saw a woman with Down syndrome walking on the street as our bus passed her on the way to our hotel. Walking through the lobby, Moxie and I brushed through throngs of adults and youth with Down syndrome, children with Down syndrome too, running around and exasperating their parents. More tears, tears that I was struggling to contain and somehow choke down because I knew if I let a few slip out, I’d completely lose it and bawl big and hard, just from the sheer joy of seeing so many people with Down syndrome in one place.

My, my.

How far 4 years has taken me. From going to my first Buddy Walk and being full of tears because I wasn’t sure if I liked that my child was a part of a group for whom there are events for, to being absolutely and completely overhwhelmed with happiness that – hey! THIS EVENT IS HAPPENING!

I don’t even know how to explain it.

But if you were there or have a child with a disability or have walked a similar path for whatever reason, I know you know what I’m talking about.

It’s just really, really emotional and your heart grows so big you are sure it’s going to take a flying leap out of your chest.

And it would be okay if it did because someone there would catch it and give it a hug and return it to you.

 Friends

I’ve been with the online Down syndrome community for over four years.

Four and a half years, and I’m not tagging on that half-year because I’d like to exaggerate the time that I’ve been a part of this community; I’m tagging on that half-year because that half-year is the time when I pretty much lived on the Baby Center Down syndrome board. It’s when I turned to these women with tremendous pain and anger and all they did was surround me with understanding and love. It’s when they gently guided me in understanding what life with Moxie would be like, apples to apples and not apples to oranges like I thought it would be.

They held my hand for a long time.

ndsc14

Well, I met many of those women for the first time in real life at the NDSC ’14  conference… and yeah. Wow! That was some emotional jiving.

meriah nichols july (3 of 8)

Because you know, what do you say to someone who has been texting you at 2 in the morning because you had a breakdown? Someone you’ve never met, until now, someone whose heart you feel like you know, even if you had no idea how tall or small they are in physical form?

meriah nichols july (11 of 11)

meriah nichols july (2 of 4)

For me, this is the power and beauty of the Internet at its best: connecting us in a virtual space and time; uniting us in person by pulling those invisible threads together, wrapping them tight

meriah nichols july (1 of 8)

I don’t have many photos from this past weekend.

Mostly, my head was in the moment – or as in the moment as a jetlagged, overwhelmed, ninja-lip-reading me can get, I suppose – and I only took out my Nikon once. Everything else was just the iphone, but I’m happy I remembered even that

meriah nichols july (5 of 8)

 Moxie at the Convention

She had a fantastic time

meriah nichols july (1 of 1)

 

She seemed surprised that so many people knew us (- I know was! WHOAH!), recognizing her off of this blog or facebook.

She liked the attention and the love and she really enjoyed meeting new friends

meriah nichols july (8 of 8)

With Miss Violette
With Miss Violette
With Rowenna!
With Rowenna!

Her interaction with kids with Down syndrome that I’ve known since she was born was especially moving. The way that some of them seemed drawn to one another, potential kindred-spirits. And it was fun recognizing other kids from their parents blogs – Kamdyn! Owen! HEY SAMANTHA!!!

Of course I didn’t get photos. That would have indicated some sort of prepared-ness, together-ness that I simply didn’t have on me last weekend.

meriah nichols july (4 of 4)

It was a whirl and a blur and a fantastic spin into reality

meriah nichols july (2 of 8)
Beautiful Jennifer

It was new friendships and SO MUCH NEW INFORMATION (- post on that is coming up), holy cow, I don’t know how I’m ever going to implement even a fraction of all that stuff!

It was chasing after our kids at lightning speed, seeing people in passing, hugs, “HEY!!!”, “I KNOW YOU!!”

meriah nichols july (4 of 8)

Chocolate cake, baseball games, fireworks, smiles with dimples

meriah nichols july (6 of 8)

It was Dora, Dora, Dora!

meriah nichols july (5 of 11)

Kid wiggles, Mom smiles

meriah nichols july (1 of 4)

It was go-till-we-drop and then get up for more – until all of the sudden it was over and we found ourselves where we started – at the airport, on the airplane, headed back across the country

meriah nichols july (4 of 11)

meriah nichols july (3 of 11)

meriah nichols july (2 of 11) NDSC 14: you were worth it.

Thank you – Carolyn, with whom sharing a room was a total joy
Thank you – Amy – for making the room possible
Thank you – NDSC – for your amazing interpreters, you made it accessible for me
Thank you – everyone who spilled kindness on Moxie and me -I’m only sorry I couldn’t often hear or *get* what you were saying – but I felt your love and I thank you for it
Thank you – Adrienne for the coffee!

…and thank you, Melissa, Missy, Michelle, Becca, Michelle, Lisa, Chris, Sarah, Mark, Stephanie, Tricia, Jen, Heather, Mark, Jennifer, Joyce, Maureen and everyone else that I am going to kick myself for not including in this post after it’s on facebook. THANK YOU for your friendship.

We hope to see you all next year, maybe even get to meet more friends!

Liked it? Take a second to support Meriah on Patreon!
Meriah
Meriah Nichols is a deaf artist, tech-junkie, Counselor (and sometime teacher), mom (one with Down syndrome), cat-lover, Trekkie, yurt-dwelling off-the-grid farmer's wife. She writes about travel, disability, and getting dishes done.

4 Comments

  • Loved reading this. I hope in 4 years I am in a similar space mentally and will find as much support as you have. Here’s to making it out to that convention one day! Thank you for sharing. I love your blog.

I'm opinionated, friendly & chatty... I hope you are, too