Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In Their Own Words: Jocelyn's Perspective

First let me introduce myself.

Name: Jocelyn Rice (Banks when I am with my husband)

Relationship to Chrystal: I want to say friend but that word doesn’t do our relationship any justice. After over 20 years, I would say that we are soul mates (Not in a Callie and Hahn Grey’s Anatomy type way, more of a Thelma and Louise, CC and Hillary from Beaches, Gail and Oprah kind of way.)

When Chrystal asked for guest bloggers of course I wanted to do it but what in the heck do you write about. Chrystal has done such a great job coming up with interesting topics; I didn’t want to be the boring guest blogger that messes it all up. I figure I will just write about my thoughts as an observer in this journey that Chrystal, Dwight, and Malea are on and hope that my thoughts come together at the end. Sort of like a stream of consciousness. I bet you never thought you would ever hear that again after high school English.

So when Malea was born, I remember Chrystal telling something me that something wasn’t right. She said that they think Malea had Down syndrome. I could hear all the emotions in her voice. Anyone that knows me knows that I am emotionally crippled. I am the worst person to expect any kind of emotion from or have an emotional reaction in front of. Thinking back, I hope that I was supportive. I hope that I wasn’t the emotional mute that I am capable of being. In my version, I was supportive.

Chrystal and I are a lot alike. We are web junkies. Like her, I ran right to Google. I probably read everything there was to read about Down syndrome. Some good, some not so good. I read all the things you should say and should not say. All the things that you should do and not do. I probably didn’t actually do any work for like a week. In my version, I did and said the right things.

Over the next couple of weeks, I felt so helpless. I live in Philly and at the time Chrystal and Dwight were in DC, so I wasn’t there. I tried my best to call and email but Chrystal was such and emotional wreck (is that too harsh?) that she was hard to catch up with. When I did get her on the phone, the conversation usually ended with her breaking down and me talking to Dwight. I was so angry that I couldn’t be there and be a real friend in-person. I wanted to cuss out all the people that claimed to be her friends and just disappointed to no end. I wanted to call all the family members that were insensitive and selfish in their reactions and give them a piece of my mind. But all I could do was let her know I was there when she needed to talk and get my mom to cook them dinner. In my version, I was a good friend.

Chrystal and Dwight have had some pretty big life changes. They got married, had a baby that just happened to have designer genes and moved across country. I know it wasn’t always easy but I am so proud of the way they have handled everything.

Malea couldn’t have chosen better parents. It is amazing to see her and Dwight together. Not that I have actually witnessed it in person a lot but from Chrystal’s stories and pictures and just hearing the pride in his voice when he talks about her, he is sprung. I am a daddy’s girl and game recognizes game. That girl will have him wrapped around her finger for life.

Malea will always have someone in her corner with her mother. I am so proud of the way Chrystal doesn’t take no for an answer and goes above and beyond to make sure that Malea will have every advantage in life. Not that any mother wouldn’t do that for her child, but anyone that knows Chrystal knows that you don’t want to be on the other side of that wrath. Who knew that she had been honing those stalking skills all these years for a purpose?

Malea has opened my eyes to so many things that I was never aware of. My choice of language, my reaction to other human beings, my tolerance for differences. It’s just amazing how much you walk around in the dark until, well, until someone turns on the light.

Like Chrystal, I worry about Malea’s future. Who will she be? Will she live in a world that celebrates her differences? She is already behind the 8-ball growing up in a world that pre-judges her for her skin color and her gender. I know we have come a long way, but we have such a long way to go. Will she have a great friend like I have in her mother? Will she call Auntie J when her mom is getting on her nerves? (Because we all know I am the cool one ) Will she make the same mistakes we made with boys (over my dead body) But those are the same types of questions I have about my own child. The more I understand Malea’s differences, the more I realize we are all the same.

Jocelyn's son, LD, and Malea size each other up on their first meeting. She's very fortunate to have a "big brother" like him.


sheree said...

great post! Chrystal and Dwight ARE lucky to have a friend like you. I can't even fathom what it had to have been like being away from friends and family when they got the dx, but I have no doubt that your words (even through the phone) were comforting to them.

love the pic ;)

Tricia said...

Wow! What a great friend indeed!

Fatimah said...

Wow! J didn't know you had it in you. I glad to now that I'm not the only one growing with Malea thru her pics.

sheree said...

ps- chrystal...I tagged you and now YOU'RE IT! Go check my blog :)

Michelle said...

thank you for sharing your thoughts as a friend looking on from the outside! Your relationship reminds me much of the one I have with my best friend, who is in Tx. We've been friends for 22 yrs now and she loves Kayla like her own child. I love the picture at the end! They are too cute checking each other out.

Shawndi84 said...

That was an awesome post! You are both lucky to have each other!!...AND the picture is SO cute!!

Lisa said...

What a wonderful post. I'm so glad Chrystal and Malea have such love and support :)

Tia said...

JRB, beautiful post. The pic is adorable. You two are great friends to one another.