Downright Joy

Discovering joy in unexpected places – a journey into Down's syndrome, Dyspraxia & Autism


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Catching My Breath

I have just said goodbye to a cot.
The charity collector took it away. As I closed the front door, I had one of those ‘catch your breath‘ moments. The kind that appear from nowhere, sending you reeling, momentarily.

This was not any cot. If, indeed, there is such a thing. For six years it’s been part of our lives.

Our cot.

It’s not that I want my children to remain as infants. Not at all. I celebrate every part of their growing up. I embrace each stage and marvel at how amazing this gift of life can be.

No. That’s not why I catch my breath and am standing still for a moment.

It’s because it was ever even here at all.

Ten years of waiting for a cot.

Ten years of longing for the need to buy one.

Ten years of a spare room. Guest room. Store room. A whatever we want to dump inside it room.

Ten years of an empty room.

So many empty rooms in so many homes.
Ours was not unique.

Rooms that lie empty, hearts that are waiting.

Or breaking.

Empty for so many reasons.
Heart-rending reasons far greater than our own sadness.
Rooms that had welcomed a cot. For a time. Then, without warning, the cot had gone.
Unexplained, perhaps. Or ‘simply’ the fragility of human life was to blame. Devastating either way.

Rooms that were ready and waiting with a cot; but ultimately it was not needed. Even though the script had said it was.

The heartbeat could no longer be found.

Often small and insignificant, these rooms contain so much more than any other room in a house. Even the empty ones. Especially the empty ones. These rooms are containers of dreams. Dreams that are alive as well as dreams that have ended. Crushed. Hopes for the future, memories of the past; both cherished and painful.

But then it came.

Assembled, ready and waiting.

The room was no longer empty.

And so the first occupant moved in. A delayed start. She almost didn’t make it. The cot was very nearly not needed. For a few days we wondered if the room would remain empty. Perhaps it was not meant to be.

She had other ideas. The room was hers. So was the cot. As she lay in the cot for the first time, some eight months after she was born, I could not have wished for a more perfect moment. The cot. The delicate mobile turning gently overhead. Mesmerising us both with its sleepy lullaby. The room. Her room. Her cot.

And, if rooms had dreams, then this was surely one of the best.

The first occupant moved out. The cot redundant.
For a time.
Then the second occupant took her place in the cot.
A coveted place. A fought for place.
A place that others suggested I should deny her.
A place that I would be better off not giving to her. According to some.
A place for the elite.The healthy.Those who can contribute more to society. Apparently.
A place that for whom 92% of those found with a chromosomal addition will never be granted.

There were no instructions on the cot as to what kind of occupant it should have.

Healthy or otherwise. It made no distinction.

All welcome.

Her cot.

And now it’s gone. Too small for a good night’s sleep.
The cot has a new empty room to fill. Somewhere.

COT (noun) Carrier of all things precious.

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