Monday, 5 March 2012

A Diamond in Disguise

In the end, it wasn't the small thing I did by taking Claire to the cinema that counted. Not in the least, even if that was how it started....

It was all the amazing and wonderful things that she taught me in the nine years that we were friends. It started as 'just some voluntary work', and turned into one of the most incredible, cherished experiences of my life.

Claire taught me about honesty, about being yourself (unashamedly), about being in touch with the how she really felt (even on days she cried with sadness). She taught me by example how to sing along with gusto and enthusiasm at the cinema and not give a damn what anyone thought; and to love pink and never even contemplate that there could be such as thing as "too much pink". In fact I don't think she ever thought that she could have "too much" of anything that made her happy - when we chose perfectly and she loved a film, she wanted to see it again, NOW preferably, but tomorrow would do. And when she didn't like a film, she was equally up front about that too.....

When she told me many years ago that I was her "best friend" she really meant it, and it touched me all the more for the genuine honesty of her words.

Too many people would write off Claire, because of how she looked, not realising that inside was one of the most amazing and precious people I have ever been blessed to meet. I will cherish these memories for the rest of my life. Monday's will always be "Claire's night".

To know that I will never see that smile again breaks my heart.... But I'm glad that my heart is bursting with love for her - she was amazing. Nine years was a long time, but for me, it was still far too short.

If you ever think of volunteering, just know this: it will change and enrich your life in ways you can never imagine. Next time you see someone with Down's Syndrome, look beyond your prejudice and you'll see a diamond in disguise.

I took Claire to the cinema.
She gave me so much more.