World Down Syndrome Day, and my friend Kaitlyn

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On March 21 we celebrate World Down Syndrome Day.  We celebrate uniqueness and joy and individuality. We strive for acceptance and respect for a group of people who are far too often demeaned, underestimated, and marginalized. Today I also celebrate Kaitlyn, whose far too brief time on this earth left a light that still shines brightly.

Kaitlyn passed away in December, 2013 after a brief battle with illness. She had Moyamoya disease, a little-known condition that can affect individuals with Down Syndrome. Her loved ones were stunned with grief, and it sent a shockwave through the local community. It seemed inconceivable that her life was taken so early. She was only 15 years old.

Kaitlyn had a lot to teach us about living and loving. She lived enthusiastically and joyfully. She loved unconditionally and freely without expectations or conditions.

Among her favorite things were the color pink, Disney movies, music, dancing, and her family. She showed those around her that true beauty lies in being, as her mother so eloquently put it, “Perfectly imperfect.”

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For Kaitlyn- Down Syndrome Awareness

In honor of World Down Syndrome Day (in March) and Down Syndrome Awareness Month (in October) I would like you to meet my friend Kaitlyn.

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Now that you have met her, I wish she could meet you. I mean that with all my heart, your life would be better for it. Just one of the countless reasons why it is so agonizing that she was taken from us too soon.

Kaitlyn passed away in December, 2013 after a brief battle with illness. Her loved ones were stunned with grief, and it sent a shockwave through the local special-needs community. It seemed inconceivable that her light was snuffed out; so young, so bright.

Today is the first World Down Syndrome Day that her family will be celebrating without Kaitlyn. It is a bittersweet observance. They mourn the loss of their sweet girl, but celebrate her life, her legacy, and the many lessons she taught all of us. We are richer for having met her, and poorer for having lost her.

Kaitlyn lived enthusiastically & loved unconditionally. Among her favorite things was the color pink, Disney movies, music, dancing, and her family. She showed those around her that true beauty lies in being, as her mother so eloquently put it, “Perfectly imperfect.”

Her memorial page on Facebook is filled with memories, pictures, and this adorable video. How can you watch such a sweet girl and see her as any less than perfect?

Kaitlyn’s brief time on this Earth urges us to redefine the world’s standards of value and perfection to embrace a life well lived-and well-loved. She was truly beautiful, and she is truly missed. So today, on World Down Syndrome Day, I thought you should meet her. Kaitlyn may no longer be with us, but her light continues to shine. 

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Update: Kaitlyn’s mother, Tracy, has this to say~

On World Down Syndrome Day, I remember……
15 years 4 months and 3 days ago, I gave birth to one of the greatest gifts of my life. November 18, 1998, weighing in at 7lbs 4 1/2 oz, & 18″ long. We found out at 6 months pregnant that our baby girl would have Down Syndrome. The words leaving the Dr’s mouth that evening, made me go deaf temporarily. We were scared, and the battle for faith commenced. For 3 more months we waited, we fought off the perinatologists best efforts to convince us she should not be here. Hydrocephalus they said, major heart defect they said, vegetable that would never leave the hospital they said, think about the quality of life they said, you’re young and can have another baby they said. Another baby??? But THIS was our baby…she had grown inside of me, I had felt her every move. I watched the screen as she’d move and bring her hands to her face. She was mine, right from the beginning, and as mothers aren’t we to protect our young? Isn’t that our purpose as mom’s? You would never dream of having a baby and the Dr saying, “by the way this ones defective we’re just going to end it’s life” The moment came, and it was clear…put our faith in God and he will take care of it. 

Kaitlyn Dee Laramore was born. Her first cry brought a rush of relief over my soul. There was no breathing assistance needed, no NICU needed, no extended hospital stay. She came home with us 2 days later. I can remember standing over her cradle in amazement at all the things she was, and none of the things that they told us she would be. She had heart surgery at 6 months and we never looked back. For 15 years and 8 days shy of 1 month, she BLESSED our everyday life. She was a ballerina that loved to dance, reading anything she could get her hands on, Katy Perry, Doc McStuffins, Mary Poppins, Disney World, and to be anywhere her family was. She wanted to be a princess when she grew up. Always a smile, a hug and a how was your day, especially when it had been a rough day for one of us. Always so considerate and kind, and full of love and a smile. The unconditional love we learned and received was the greatest lesson of my life. People that are faced with this “decision” after receiving a prenatal diagnosis of Downs…I BEG you, quiet your mind and open your heart. Trust, and have faith. It won’t always be easy, but it is without a doubt the greatest pleasure of my life to have been her mommy. The hardest part of having my daughter who just so happened to have Down Syndrome, was the day God said he needed her back. December 10, 2013. The world lost one of its brightest lights that day. Her race was run, and her purpose fulfilled. The greatest teacher of my life. Wouldn’t change a thing, except keeping her with me forever. 

One last question…..Would you turn down a piece of heaven if it was offered to you? They are as close as we can get to it in this unkind world we live in. The world NEEDS them. Let them teach us. We have so much to learn! Happy World Down Syndrome Day