From Chicken Soup for the Country Soul


Someone once told me that they believed special needs children are angels God sends to us to help with our spiritual and emotional growth. Of course, I didn’t always believe this was true.

After my son Tyler was born with Down’s syndrome, I felt such a sense of anger and loss. I was devastated. I remember thinking, How could I have some thing imperfect? I was just so hurt. I had heard of Down’s syndrome and thought it was the end of the world. I was angry at God for allowing this to happen to my child and to me. Then I felt guilty for being angry at God. There was also this incredible loss, almost a grieving for the loss of dreams a parent has for his child.

You’re proud of all your kids, but with Tyler it’s special because any small thing he does is a giant step. He learns so slowly, so anything he does is like “Wow, look at what Tyler’s doing!”

During this difficult time, several people came into my life who really helped me to put acceptance and joy back into living. I’m not even sure they realized how important the things they said were to me. One particular comment from a friend really stands out in my mind. He said, “Joe, I promise you that this child will bring you as much or more joy than your other children do now. Every milestone, every small accomplishment he makes will be a cause for celebration.”

Tyler underwent surgery in 1991 to remove his tonsils and nearly died of asphyxiation. He was in intensive care for seven days with all these bandages on him and tubes sticking out of every portal. We almost lost him.

All the things I took for granted with my other kids— like walking, talking, eating independently, catching a ball and just being able to play—became sources of pride and cause for hope with Tyler. He may not ever be able to be president of the United States, play professional football, or even speak clearly or be able to live independently, but Tyler can give the most precious gifts of smiles and hugs and unconditional love. I guess God really does send us angels from time to time.

Joe Diffie

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners