Christy owns China Garden. It's one of the two true restaurants we have in our tiny town. So we've gotten to know her. When we come in, she focuses most of her attention on Austin. She speaks to the other children, but it is Austin she loves. She always compliments him and tells us how cute he is.
One Sunday evening, Sarah, Austin and I went in to get take out. We ignored the buffet and chose to order Wonton Soup, Sesame Seed Chicken and Mongolian Beef to go. While we were waiting, Christy brought Sarah and Austin bowls of ice cream then sat down across from me and said, "He looks different."
She took her hand and made a circle around her face. I just smiled and nodded. She frowned a bit and tried again, "He doesn't look like your family."
I laughed and said, "Well he looks the most like his sister, Jessica and his father."
"No..." Clearly frustrated, she paused to find the words in English. Finally she pats her cheek and says, "He look Asian...like me."
Ah. I finally understood. "He has down syndrome," I told her. She tilted her head and looked puzzled. So I tried again. "He has an extra chromosome." Still, she looked puzzled and shook her head. "He was born with a birth defect."
Ah, now she understood. "Do you know what I'm talking about Christy?" She just nodded. Then mumbled something about checking on our food. I hadn't realized that she didn't' know. I assumed it was apparent. Not only that, Jessica used to work next door at the nail shop and saw Christy daily..
Christy came back out of the kitchen and sat back down. She told me our food would be ready in a minute.
Then she got this determined look on her face, she leaned in close and said," I love him. I don't see different, I see beauty. His eyes, his cheeks, his nose, his mouth....they are beauty to me." As she said each feature she pointed them out to me on both herself and Austin.
I couldn't speak, I just nodded. She looked at him closely then started again. "He not look like your family, he look Asian. And to us, he is beautiful. We all love him."
Finally, I smiled and said, "When I look at Austin, I don't see different either. I see beauty. But when Americans look at my child, they see different. They see Down syndrome."
Christy shook her head and began to tell me a story about a little boy she met in China when she was young. She was visiting her mother's mother and he suprised her while she was cleaning fish. The whole time she is telling me the story, she is pantomiming. She showed Sarah and I how she was bent over the fish cleaning when she heard a little boy say, "Hello." Her eyes got big and she pointed to Austin. "He look like him. His hair was dark and his skin was color like mine....but he look like Austin. He was the most beautiful boy I ever seen."
She got up to get our food and said again. " I not see different. I see beauty. If I not know his age, I'd not think anything except he is beautiful."
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him." 1 John 4:7-9