How Long Will He Live?

Someone asked me the question, "What is Elias' life expectancy?" To be honest, when I read it, my stomach knotted up and I fought back tears. It is a good question, but difficult to think about.

Somedays I feel like I have more control of life than I really do. Then I am reminded that my children are a gift and only God knows the number of their days.

Having a child with Down Syndrome or a typical child does not change how much control I have over life. I can only look at my son and enjoy his life now. I'm not ignoring the future, but I am not dwelling there either. I enjoy today more because of what I know.

Life expectancy for people with Down Syndrome have come a long way. In the 1920's, the average life span of a person with Down Syndrome was only nine years. Because of changes in perspective and better medical care, today they can live past 60.

I treat Elias the same way I treat Vitali. I give him healthy food, exercise, and a loving home. I do what I can so that his life will be full. Of course I hope it will be long. I hope he will outlive me. But no matter what—whether it's him or I who go first—it is going to be difficult.

Here's what it comes down to: I know the facts and I will do what I can to give my son a good life. But it goes deeper than the facts. It goes deeper than my son having Down Syndrome. We don't have control over death, but we do have today, the gifts in front of us.

As I type I can look over at Elias, he is sleeping peacefully in his bed. He is breathing, he is alive. I have him today.

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© 2014 Natalie Falls