Jamie has shown us…
…what it means to interact with others. Though her communication skills are limited, she never fails to introduce herself to people. “Hi. My name is Jamie Peterson. What’s yours?” is the first thing out of her mouth. In a store, if she sees another child with Downs, she immediately goes up and talks and often hugs. She does not discriminate.
…what it means to live. Her desires and needs are simple: People. Interaction. Love. Popcorn. Maybe popcorn needs to go first. Growing up, she was content with whatever was near: a catalog to thumb through, a cat to pet. Dogs…hmm…maybe not so much. TV commercials enticing kids with new toys was wasted on Jamie. She loved swinging, swimming, and swaying with the music.
…what it means to be happy. Like all Downs kids, Jamie is 98% happy. (She has some Irish in her––and some Peterson, so no perfect 100 for her!) She loves music, and loves to sing and dance, but I have to admit, she dances a whole lot better than she sings.
…what it means to retain that childlike innocence––and deviousness: There will always be a Santa Claus. Christmas tree lights and decorations will always fascinate. The whipped cream in the refrigerator will always be subject to a sneaky hand.
To her three siblings, she was our sister. Doug would tickle and tease her unmercifully, which would get her to giggle then object, until she would finally yell, “Dougie, stop!” Pam, the youngest, would try to move up the pecking order, thinking Jamie wouldn’t notice, but she did. “Pam, you behave!” I guess I was the only “kind” sibling. Hmmmm.
But I still have a question. I know the Bible states that God has created each of us wonderfully and uniquely (Psalm 139:13-14; Jeremiah 1:4). I know he cares about each one of us intimately down to every hair on our head (Matthew 10:29-31). But why, for some people, does some of that uniqueness have to include a disability? I sometimes think about what Jamie has missed because of her disability, but the more I think, the less I can come up with. She went to Hawaii (without us), went to camp, worked, learned, won a gold medal in gymnastics at the Special Olympics at UCLA (being double jointed helped), and made lifelong friends.
What did she miss out on? Stress. Financial worries. The accumulation of stuff. The head games. But that is from my perspective. That is me trying to answer me.
I will have to wait to get my full answer until I get to heaven. But I don’t think it will be God answering my question. I think that when Jamie and I see each other in heaven, and she has that flawless body and healthy mind, and she can communicate perfectly, I bet my feeble attempt at an answer will pale in comparison to hers.