I have been amazed and humbled by the response to the letter I wrote to Jillian upon her wedding. Correspondence from all over the globe: Australia, France, Germany, Greece, the UK, Switzerland, Greece. An e-mail from the Discovery Channel, suggesting a documentary.
Appearances on multiple websites: People.com, Today.com, ABC News, Yahoo, Fox News, Good Housekeeping,Cosmopolitan and others. The letter went viral.
Which makes me happy, obviously. It’s a wonderfully human story. We can always use those. And, honestly, it doesn’t hurt book sales. Amazon has had trouble keeping An Uncomplicated Life in stock.
But here’s what would make me happier: If a Down syndrome wedding were not international news.
Jillian and Ryan prepared a decade for their marriage. Kerry and i, Ellen and Dimitri did, too. There is extra effort involved, and all parties have to be rowing the same boat in the same direction. But the fundamentals were there for our kids, same as for any typical couple: Love, trust, empathy, friendship. Those qualities aren’t the sole province of typical people. I would argue that Jillian and Ryan were in some ways better equipped to handle marriage than some of the rest of us. Innate kindness and generosity of spirit never hurt a marriage, yeah?
They are doing very well. Because they’ve known each other so long, marriage was just the next step, and required very little adjusting. Jillian’s only complaint is that she can’t get married all over again.
I’m thrilled that the world got a shot of hope from the letter. Here’s a sample e-mail:
My husband & I are from the UK & have lived in Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean & only 40 miles from Turkey & 70 from Syria…Your story has given us ‘hope’. Whilst these refugees & asylum seekers do not have Down’s, they do have mega obstacles to obtain a life free of bullets & bombs…….Jilian shows that all is possible… June x
I hope Jillian and Ryan uplift and inspire. I hope more that soon enough, stories of unions like theirs become the norm.
Expect. Don’t Accept.
See people. Don’t Look at them.
Thanks for reading.
I have been in Florida since Tuesday and mostly off the grid. No internet, and already way over my data allowance for the month