Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"He isn't finished"

I am reading the biography of Jerome Lejeune, the French geneticist who discovered the cause of Trisomy 21, or Down Syndrome.  I'm only on page 11, but even so, I would recommend this book to anyone who is breathing.  The author makes the statement that mother's with children who are affected by Trisomy 21 have, in the past, referred to their children as "unfinished."  This statement stabbed my heart and caused my face to flinch.  "Unfinished."  I would argue that this opinion of an individual with disability, either genetically or otherwise, as being unfinished points directly to their inherent goodness and happiness.  It is in fact a positive.

Isn't it in our state of being "finished," of being "perfected," born normal that we must suffer?  Our minds, all too often, are too complex and distracted to see what really matters.  We look for fulfillment in all sorts of places, always coming up short it seems, until we force ourselves to become small like one of our "unfinished" brothers or sisters.  In our complexity we reason and struggle and fight with true fulfillment, true happiness.  We can see the source of happiness, but we don't want to look that way.  We squint our eyes to deform the true Light and falsely convince ourselves that the manufactured light, the fluorescent lights of the world will fill that dark space in our hearts.  The "unfinished" don't do this.  They can not lie to themselves.  And they are, in that sense, more perfect than we.

Their lack of complexity, their lack of "completion" enables them a sort of super-power: to see what's really there.  They must trust, with complete abandonment, the people who care for them.  They rely on others for their every human need, sometimes down to the most basic, uncomfortable necessities of life.  Their humility is great, but unashamed due to their simplicity, they trust.  They do not blush when their adult diaper is being changed, they know no better.  Dominic does not worry that he will be dropped, that he will eat, that he will be loved.  He trusts us completely.  He only knows goodness.  Even through the pains he has endured, the surgeries, the tubes, the lines, the tortures of gasping for breath when his trach is being changed, of being poked repeatedly by nurses, he trusts.  He trusts us.  Just as we are called to blindly, completely trust in the goodness of God in all circumstances, so the "unfinished" unreservedly trust that their care-taker wills the best for them.

They do not waste their time on empty past-times.  They are not consumed with facebook posts or the latest tv series, both of which fill our real, deep longing for God with temporary, artificial fluff.  They live in real life.  They love the people who love them, and often the people who do not love them.  They smile, they laugh, they interact as best they are able.  They want real relationships, to talk to people, to be hugged, to be loved, to be held.  They bring us "completed" individuals out of our cold, manufactured shells and force us to live in real time.  To face the hard questions head on.  To do what we were made for: to love another person, not a virtual person who can not love us back.  We give them 1% of ourselves, they give us 300% of themselves.  We add a drop of goodness to their sea of perfection, they consume our wickedness, our selfishness, our darkness and allow us to see that real, warm Light, that tangible Goodness for which we all seek.  If we only allow our hard-selves to be  submerged through loving these "unfinished," drowned in a sense by the only true source of Goodness, we can resurface with new eyes, ready to love as one of the "unfinished," the simple, the perfect people.

Totus Tuus,


  1. Dominic is PRECIOUS-love his smile!

    Life is a Blessing--wonderful book!
    His cause for canonization is under way.

    Thanks for your post--cheers and blessings to you!

  2. Chasity-

    The same word came to my mind about D after I spent time with ya'll the other night. Perfect. He is content and happy and sweeter than I even imagined. That smile is the most pure wonderful smile I have ever seen! So great spending time with you guys!