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A Mother's Love


I saw that familiar face again. Sometimes I would see her on the popcorn stand munching from a paper cup or dancing to the loud beat of the music from the stereo of a parked jeepney. In the small town where I live, she is, like the postman, a common figure. She wore short, curly hair without bangs, which crowned her small head. Her slanting eyes were straightly lashed and her eyebrows arched almost perfectly. I immediately noticed her two square ears with tiny earrings. Also noticeable were her short, plump arms dangling from her rounded shoulders. In body and spirit, she was, indeed, not a stranger to me.

As I took my order of hot chocolate and buttered doughnuts, my heart lurched with compassion. She was sitting alone on a two-chaired breakfast table munching from a popcorn cup. I ached inside as I stared at her stout but strong-framed body. Oh, my sweet little Daniella, you just couldn’t be like her!

I was grateful for whatever it was that moved me to join the vacant seat opposite her where I could study her intently without really scrutinizing. I wanted to be her friend.

“Do you like doughnuts?” I asked pointing towards my tray. I could not think of anything else to say to break the ice between us.

“No, I like that,” she said, directing her gaze towards the plastic advertisement of a two-piece chicken limb and rolls above.

“They do not have chicken yet at this time. They serve that at lunchtime,” I explained.

“I like fried chicken,” she mumbled fairly to herself, slowly withdrawing, but smiling.

I smiled back. “My name is Evelyn. What is yours?” I asked again.

“Bobby,” she replied. It was then that I noticed her chalky, unclean teeth.

“Isn’t that a boy’s name? How old are you?” I questioned further.

She raised her lined, almost unseen neck. “One,” she told me. I could tell her age. She could be between thirteen to fifteen years old. Then she sat up straight and pointed her polished fingertips towards the plastic sign shown up.

“I like fried chicken,” she whispered the words again.

 “They do not serve that for breakfast, Bobby. . . How do you like my other doughnut?” I almost begged her to pick it up. I received a long silence. “You’re wearing uniform and rubber shoes. In what high school do you go to?”

We blankly stared at each other. I thought that that was a signal for me to stop being inquisitive.

I finished my chocolate and turned to leave. “I must go, Bobby. I need to go to the market and to pay our phone bill.”

She suppressed a dry smile. I overheard her whisper to herself again, “I like fried chicken. . .”

The waitress escorted me on the way out, and brushing my arm with hers, she said matter-of-factly. “She is our regular customer. That girl has Down Syndrome.”

“Yes, I know. I have a seven-month-old baby girl at home waiting for me, and she has Down Syndrome.”

I have a certain fondness for cute little girls and so when I was expecting our third child, I asked the Lord to give us another daughter. He did give us another daughter, but among other daughters, ours was diagnosed to have Down Syndrome. I was shocked upon learning it. It tore my heart.

What have I done to deserve this, I asked. I started asking questions to the Lord. “Why, why me?” But deep inside I know the Lord’s reply would be, “And why not?”

I clearly remember that Friday morning we came home after the findings. I had to drag my feet outside the pediatrician’s clinic because I felt they were numb. I have had occasional challenges in life, but this one is like no other.

I thought it was unbearable. I kept asking my husband why while he drove us home, and clutching little Daniella close to my breast, his calm reply remains to me as the bright blue sky of that morning.

“Ours is not to question, for we know in our hearts why. We have been chosen as guardians to provide love and understanding to one of God’s little angels. It is a privilege."

The word “anger” ran through my mind half of the way home. Pressing my cheek to my baby’s warm and supple one. I held back the tears inside. That moment, I felt joy creeping up my spine, warming my trembling body. It made me realize how wonderful the gospel is, how grateful I should be for my enduring faith in all of my Heavenly Father’s plans.

My husband and I must be two valiant children to be given such a sacred trust and calling—to take care of His special child. She is ours because no other mother and father can have her. Daniella covenanted with me to be her earthly mother. Heavenly Father sealed that promise to me and to our other daughters. Because of the Lord’s acquaintance with her, He could know well in advance what Daniella would do under a given circumstance and condition. She has a special assignment to perform.

Hers is not to question, either, as in Romans 9:20, "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it. Why hast thou make me thus?”

But like Paul’s statement to Timothy, she will get this same reply, “But in a great house, there are not only vessels of gold and of but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor and some to dishonor. If a man, therefore, purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel into honor, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto very good work. (2 Timothy 2:20-21). That no matter what her impediment in life as we see it to be, incredibly, someday, we will see her whole.

In the wee hours, when I will conduct my daily rounds quietly and look inside our daughters’ room, I will find them deep in sleep. One may be sprawled in a mess, a finger between her teeth, and the other could be neatly rolled in sheets. I will then turn to the tiniest girl in the crib and would watch her gently.

Daniella would often smell of milk and talc combined. I do not visualize them as grownups because they are not. They are four little beautiful souls, where each one is wonderful as she is different, but all are children of Heavenly Father, entrusted for care to me and to my husband. As their parents, ours is to see to it that they are loved and well taken care of.

On such midnight rounds, my thoughts would also go back to Bobby. She could be sleeping beside affectionate brothers and sisters who are alone in the deserted side of the sidewalk, with sardine cartons to keep them warm.

I may be able to meet her again in the same spot with a popcorn cup in her hand. She may be dancing or sitting alone by herself in the doughnut store, blankly staring at the chicken advertisement.

Bobby may be a little different, but isn’t everybody is? Likewise, Heavenly Father created her for a particular purpose, and that is to touch my life and those of others in wondrous, gentle ways.

Today, Ella Soleta is 21 years old and is serving a mission with her parents in the Public Affairs Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She continues to be a ray of sunshine to her family and those around her.

This piece was published on the Women's Journal magazine on 29 January 1994

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