An Uncomplicated Life: Number 47

The posed to me this question: What is one truth/secret you’d like to share about your experiences involving people with disabilities?

That was a no-brainer.

The best person I’ve ever known lived under my roof for 23 years, before she moved to her own place more than two years ago. The truth about Jillian Daugherty? She’s fantastically, inspirationally good. The Mighty story will post soon; I’ll link it here. For now, here’s an excerpt from An Uncomplicated Life, from a chapter titled “Number 47” that addresses the subject.

“Jillian owned three copies of Chromosome 21, instead of the usual two. Trisomy 21, it’s called, the most common form of Down syndrome. Human cells contain 23 pairs of chromosomes, 46 in all. This was Number 47.

“If you believe there are no coincidences, you have to at least entertain the notion that Number 47 has a purpose beyond sadness. If you are anything other than terminally pessimistic, you believe the extra chromosome has some beneficial reason for being,

“Number 47 contains a lot that makes us good. It has to. Somewhere in that bonus wiring is a connection to compassion and kindness, a plan for how to be better. Number 47 puts out the fires of ego and envy, vanity and guile. It filters anger. Thanks to 47, Jillian lives a life of joy, giving and receiving in equal time. Nothing defines her more. Number 47 isn’t a governor on her aspirations. It’s an extra storage tank for all her good stuff.

“Jillian knows what matters, and what to do with it. The smallest of joys: A hug offered, a smile received. Jillian’s knowing isn’t learned. It’s not inherent. It’s innate. It’s Number 47 on her shoulder, riding shotgun.”


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