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Get the tissues ready, for here comes a letter from a Dad to his daughter – who has Down syndrome – on her wedding day.
“Dear Jillian,” it begins, “It is the afternoon of your wedding … In two hours, you will take the walk of a lifetime … I don’t know what the odds are of a woman born with Down syndrome marrying the love of her life. I only know you’ve beaten them.”
It goes on:
“You are upstairs now, making final preparations with your mom and bridesmaids … Your bejeweled dress – “my bling,’’ you called it – attracts every glimmer of late afternoon sunshine pouring through the window. Your makeup – that red lipstick! – somehow improves upon a beauty that has grown since the day you were born.
“I have everything and nothing to tell you. When you were born and for years afterward, I didn’t worry for what you’d achieve academically. Your mom and I would make that happen … we could make teachers teach you, and we knew you’d earn the respect of your peers.
“What we couldn’t do was make other kids like you. Accept you, befriend you, stand with you in the vital social arena. We thought: ‘What’s a kid’s life, if it isn’t filled with sleepovers and birthday parties and dates to the prom?
“I worried about you then. I cried deep inside on the night when you were 12 and you came downstairs to declare, ‘I don’t have any friends’.”
But it worked out. Jillian preserved in her friend-making and spent “four years attending college classes and made lifelong impressions on everyone you met … Do you remember all the stuff they said you’d never do, Jills? You wouldn’t ride a two-wheeler or play sports. You wouldn’t go to college. You certainly wouldn’t get married. Now… look at you”.
“It worked out for you, because of the person you are.”
You can read the full letter at The Mighty.
For the record, the author-Dad is Paul Daugherty, 57, a sports columnist at the Cincinnati Enquirer; in 2013, he was named best sports columnist and best feature writer in the United States by AP’s sports editors. Having seen both kids grow up and leave home, Paul and his wife are now empty nesters, but for the golden retriever, called Lucy.