By: Cailtin McAuliffe
My mother is as blind as a bat. She literally could not function without her contacts or her glasses on. I've seen some pictures of her in her childhood, and let me tell you, she wore some nice thick glasses.
My dad, pretty much the same thing. He has recently bought a pair of reading glasses (from what I understand, this is some type of rite of passage in middle to late adulthood). Jessica has worn glasses since 5th grade I believe, and she too cannot see a thing without glasses or contacts. Taylor, perfect vision. Jake and Joe, we have yet to find out.
Then there's me.
I have 20/20 vision. Nothing medically wrong with my sight. But as of the last year and a half, I have begun "wearing" a type of glasses. I guess you could say that they are rose colored glasses. And guess who picked out these extraordinary glasses especially for me? ...you guessed it, The Princess herself, Zoey.
Typically, the phrase "through rose colored glasses" is something that carries a negative connotation: ignorance, someone not in touch with reality, feigned optimism, perhaps even foolishness.
But is this really so? Or is looking through glasses tinted with a twinge of pink actually a gift of sorts?
I would support the latter.
Since the birth of my littlest sister, things have been on an upswing for me.
Zoey came into our life, and my life particularly, at a time of grayness, and by gray I mean that I was going through the motions of life, skating by, taking all for granted. Then, in a quite rude awakening, I was faced with the stark contrast of all that is worthwhile and meaningful and all that is void and purposeless.
Underneath a tangle of tubes and wires, a ferocious spirit battled without even making the conscious choice to do so. This small warrior was giving me a run for my money in the courage zone.
I found it so much easier to remain apathetic in so many areas of my life, rushing around, trying to do what was best for only myself. But everything changed that day. It was as if she came into the world and wordlessly told me, "Slow down. Stop and look around for a minute."
So I did.
I had a hard time seeing. Everything was blurry, and most of all, everything was gray. There was no black and white. In a short amount of time, I realized that I might need some corrective lenses...and that's when Zoey handed me a pair of rose colored frames.
My new glasses felt a little funny. I'd never really worn them before and wasn't even sure they fit correctly, but I gave them a shot. Everything seemed a little brighter, a little more vibrant, but I still wasn't sure. Was I really cut out to wear glasses? I thought I was seeing things just fine before.
After a bit, everything took on color, even Zoey after her heart surgery. The senseless seemed more manageable and faith overtook doubt. Gray did not intrude on living, instead, joy shined through whenever I wore my glasses.
Sure, there were times I chose to take them off. There were times I threw them across the room, there were even times I contemplated stepping on them. But each time, Zoey kept going, so I did too.
But how did such a little baby know about these glasses? How did she know to give them to me. The amazing thing is, Zoey has a pair of rose colored glasses herself.
She was born wearing them.
The blueprints for her glasses were located on her third 21st chromosome, and they genetically formed right into her very being. Within her genetic makeup, she contains the secret to living a beautiful life: optimism, perseverance, and joy.
She does not choose these traits, they are in every cell in her body. She exudes beauty and faithfulness because this is her nature. Zoey's rose colored glasses are not a mark of her ignorance or her foolishness, they are a symbol of her ability to strive in an unfair world. And she didn't have to buy these glasses, shop around for them, or try them on for size, they just came perfectly tailor made for her.
I figured, 'If she can wear these all the time, so can I." So I do. Or at least I try.
Some might say they look silly or are impractical, but they are working out perfectly for me. And ultimately, I don't have a choice whether or not I wear them. I owe it to Zoey Grace to never take them off.
Zoey did not choose Down syndrome for herself, nor did she choose any of the battles that she has encountered in her existence. This is beyond human control. I wish I could take on some of her suffering, but unfortunately, unfairly, I cannot.
What I can do is to everyday choose optimism. I can choose my attitude. I can choose to pray. I can rejoice in the peace of Christ and in the unimaginable promise that both my life and Zoey's life hold. I can choose to embrace this ephemeral life for all it's worth.
And from my point of view, life is looking pretty rosy these days.
Cailtin's amazing tribute to her sister was published in the book "Gifts". You can also follow Zoey's journey by clicking HERE to be directed to the family blog.