I read this book quite awhile ago, relatively speaking, and meant to write a review immediately, but it got stuck in a pile of stuff in my office and I’ve lost so many “to-to” lists I’ve probably killed a whole forest.

I came across it yesterday as I was looking for something else, and I want to let you guys know about this book while it’s still in front of me.

Kathy Soper, who put together (beautifully!) the books “Gifts” and “The Mother in Me” has written a book about the first year of her life with Thomas, a son born with Down Syndrome.

“Mr. and Mrs. Soper, we think your son has Down Syndrome.”

Nobody spoke.

“He has several of the physical characteristics,” the woman continued. “We’re nearly certain, but we’ll do a blood test to confirm.”

Nobody spoke.

I turned back toward Reed. A look passed between us. It lasted only a few seconds, but it held the weight of years. The weight of lifetimes.

This book moved me on many levels. Kathy didn’t sugar coat a thing as she shares intimately her emotions–negative and positive—and the roller coaster ride she is taking as she cares for and loves the gift that is Thomas.

She has given us a gift in the process.

No matter what I’m experiencing in my life, it is my tendency—actually, maybe a compulsion—to look for the stories of others who are experiencing the same thing, for validation and guidance. I know this book will bless the lives of countless families who deal with Down Syndrome and other difficulties with their babies.

But it’s also a story of a marriage, of a mother-daughter relationship, of friendships, and of the uniquely complicated exchanges that occur in a ward as people try to support, advise, empathize—and sometimes, criticize. Sometimes, I think, people just want to be a part of something important and so they say and do stupid things.

For me, the message in Kathy’s book is “we are all human.” I dog-eared page 283, because of these words (written after she relates a soul-searing conversation with her mother):

As we hung up, I wondered if I could believe it. I’d mishandled my childrens’ emotions all year. Maybe I didn’t know any better, but I should have. By trying to prevent suffering, I only caused more. By trying to prevent failure, I failed more miserably. By trying to be selfless, I made myself center stage while seven children waited in the wings, including one very small, very vulnerable baby.

The question of self-pity.

My unraveling mind stopped midturn, realizing that I faced another trap. I could pity myself for pitying myself and be sucked again into a downward spiral of self-blame. Or I could forgive myself. I could step out of that suffocating room and into another–a sane place, a wise place. A place where I had done my best, and my best was enough.

I sobbed when I read that and I have tears as I read it again today. I haven’t reached that place of forgiveness of self yet, but, because I know Kathy is a good person, and she shared her story of human-ness and error, I feel less self condemnation. Thank you, Kathy.

I commend this book to everyone, man and woman, ivory tower readers and paperbook romance readers, men and women, young and old. Well done.