painting of a path through woods

Life in the Woods

There was a day when I realized that no doctor would ever emerge to say about Penny having Down syndrome, “It was touch and go for a while there, but now you’re out of the woods.” No, the woods were home. And we began to explore them, and make pathways through the tall trees, and find the open meadows, and revel in the richness of life under those branches.

Now, to stretch the analogy to its breaking point—as Penny turns 18 and finishes high school and looks toward the future—this little cottage tucked in between two giant oaks has become too small for us. It’s time to move, and no one knows exactly how to direct us or what kind of home we need next. We need to learn procedures and ask questions and read books. I’m taking a class to try to learn how to navigate this transition process. I’ve attended webinars about college placement. I’ve met with a lawyer and a financial planner.

It all feels overwhelming and big and easy to screw up and hard. Like it did nearly eighteen years ago, when she was born.

Except it is nothing like eighteen years ago. 

Because now we want to live in the woods. This is home, and it is beautiful and more expansive and real and true than anywhere else I have ever lived. That love that used to only be palpable in Penny’s presence has become far more steady, like the ground beneath our feet.

More with Amy Julia

Our Visit to the Mass General Down Syndrome Clinic
NBC News Now | Teaching Kids About Disability and Friendship
Using Our Spiritual Imaginations to Envision a Good and Possible Future
Christianity Today: God Teaches Me Through My Daughter with Down Syndrome

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