I love you with all of my heart.
Nobody that walks this earth can make me as silly happy and as incredibly frustrated as you can... all within the same 10 or 15 seconds. You have a knack...
You are kind, funny and silly. You are brave. You love life like not many people know how to love life. I'm certain that the secret lies within your extra chromosome. People say that a lot you know... that those with Down Syndrome are always so happy. Obviously that's not true 100% of the time, but I'd say it's pretty close. I wish people would say that about me... that I'M always so happy. I admire that in you.
I know that not everything comes easy to you. I know that you have to work extra hard to sit still and concentrate and work hard. I know that it's sometimes difficult to play with your friends because they don't understand your body language or your spoken language... but you still love them. You love your friends with a fierce love... even when they turn their backs on you or don't take time with you... you never give up on them. I admire that in you.
Thank you for never holding a grudge, Josh. Sometimes, when you frustrate me with your stubbornness (another little treat that lies within your extra chromosome), I want to scream. And sometimes I do, don't I? It helps that you say something really dumb in the heat of the moment because it brings me back to reality... and makes me laugh. You never stay mad at me when I lose my cool. I admire that in you.
When it comes to making others smile... you certainly know how to do it up right. Jared is so jealous of you, ya know? He wishes he could just walk up to random girls and hug them. You have won over all of his (girl) friends and Caleb's (girl) friends... and even the boys like to be around you. You seem to make everyone happier Josh... just with your presence. I do love watching Jared and Caleb and Abby's friends with you... even if they have never been around anyone like you, you seem to draw them in. It doesn't take you long to win them over. It warms my heart. I admire that in you.
And last (but certainly not least), I love the way you love God and church and singing hymns and giving testimonies and praying. You seem to know Him more intimately than I do. You are not ashamed and will drop everything and pray... at home, in church, in school, at Wal-Mart. You seem to know from whence your help comes. I admire that in you.
Who knew, those short but so so long 10 years ago, that you would be so loved? So awesome? Such an important piece in our family. Our family would not be complete without you. God knew that we needed you and that we needed Down Syndrome in our lives to teach us, grow us, help us love more deeply. He knew better than we did because we were scared.
I wondered what you would be like at 10 years old. I wondered what you would look like at 10 years old. This seemed to be the age that I was most concerned about... 10. Double digits. I worried about school and friends and clothes and speech and vision and sickness and whether or not you'd be over weight or potty trained... and now none of that matters Josh. YOU taught me that Josh. God gave me you and used you to change me. I like me better now.
I don't know what the future holds for us. I know this whole world is big and scary and uncertain... and I know that not everyone values you or what you have to offer. But you will always have me and Dad, Josh. To the best of our ability, we will stand up for you, stand behind you and be there for you until death do us part. We will encourage you AND be hard on you... because we know how far you have come and how much further you have to go. It's our job to help others to realize what you have to offer. And we take that job seriously, Josh.
I love you with all of my heart birthday boy. We've come a long way baby!! Happy double digits.
(I was SO sick... excuse my appearance)
And just a quick shout out to everyone that has played a part in getting me to this day... and there are SO many of you that deserve to be mentioned (and my memory stinks but I'm gonna give this a shot)...
Kathie... for being there on the day he was born and continuing to be there to this very day. Thank you for not letting me worry about 10 years old way back then.
Aunt Judy... for being SO happy that we had a baby with Down Syndrome. You and Uncle Bob knew something that we didn't know that day 10 years ago. We love you for your constant prayer and support.
Our church family... the family of God. Honestly, there isn't enough room here to give appropriate thanks. We love you.
Caleb, Jared and Abby... God hand picked our family and you guys are simply my heart. Thank you for even getting upset with Josh sometimes because it pushes him to learn... and pushes me to see where I fall short in teaching him.
Mrs. Morneault... as his kindergarten teacher you encouraged us to dream big and let Josh be the one to tell us when it was too much for him. Honestly, we have you to thank for most of where he is now.
K-5 school staff... you guys are the BEST. Every. Single. One. Of. You.
Ms. Kellie... for being you. You are everything I ever dreamed Josh would have at school. And more.
My husband... for grounding me when I needed grounding, for being human and for loving us so much.
My inlaws... for being there for the other kids when I wasn't able and for helping in so many big and small ways. And mostly, for your prayers.
Ben, Sam, Micah, Hannah & Noah... cousins... you guys pretty much know how much you mean to us. Josh loves the 5 of you with a sincere passion. Thank you for loving him back so wonderfully.
My mom... for always listening and praying. Thanks for being genuinely happy for how far Josh has come and always reminding me of that.
My God... thank you certainly doesn't seem like enough. It doesn't even begin to touch the surface of my gratitude. Please continue to guide me, teach me and grow me. I love you.