A Tiny Angel
She was a tiny thing, pitifully small. She reminded me of what Madison, my sixteen-month old niece, had looked like months ago, but this girl was walking around like an old pro. She wore a red sweater with a turtleneck, tennis shoes with ruffly socks. But her sweet outfit was not the first thing that I had noticed. I had unconsciously been blinded by one thing: she had Down’s syndrome.
My family was heading out of the pizza parlor. My niece was in the entryway with that little girl, whose name I still don’t know. Her huge smile soon began to melt my wary exterior.
I stood back and watched the two girls interact for a moment. They ran around like perky puppies, with my niece giggling the whole time. My older sister and the girl’s mother chatted, but I paid them no attention. All I could see was the girl wrap her arms around Madison, and watch Madison kiss her back.
Quietly, I went down on my knees. The girl noticed me and toddled over. “Hi,” I whispered, almost too quiet for myself to hear. She looked at me, her enchanting smile warming my heart. She reached around and held me, oblivious to how much I had wanted her to do so. I could hear my family “ahh” at what the sight. All I could do was pat her back tenderly, willing myself to stay composed.
My eyes seldom left the girl for the rest of our fairly short encounter. I just watched as she played with Madison like they were old friends. Meanwhile, I could hear my mother ask if the girls were the same age.
“She’s two and a half.”
That broke my heart. During the whole time that we had been together, she hadn’t uttered a single sound other than a squeal of delight. Even though she was more than a year older than my sister’s chatty toddler, she was half a head shorter and much, much quieter. I knew that the girls would someday be in entirely different places. When we parted, the mother led her tiny daughter away. Though I may never see the girl again, she remains in my thoughts.
Her natural instinct is goodness; we all were that way once. While that innocence is inevitably corrupted over time, it is always present. I hope that her heart stays clear forever. She would never be self-sufficient, and might never have a family of her own; these were two things that my family dreamt about for Maddie. But her smile was so expressive and brilliant, and I am positive that she’ll be fine.
This young girl, through only a short meeting, has shown me the bigger picture. I believe that the child’s ability to love should not be underestimated; their compassion for strangers can be quickly-made and genuine. I believe that love can be found anywhere. I believe that short encounters can change lives. This I believe.