Last night we went to the funeral service of an amazing 12 year old boy named Timothy Borquez, who had Down syndrome. He died in his sleep a week ago. It was the saddest yet most heart warming funeral I have been to. There must have been 500 people there saying their goodbyes to Timmy and supporting his family through their tragic loss. He and his family are a big part of Club 21, an incredible organization for kids with Down syndrome and their families. Club 21 has become our main Down syndrome community and support group over the last year and Timmy's death is a huge loss to our community. But not just to our community, his death is a huge loss to all those who knew him and that was evident by the amount of people present there last night.
Timmy's life was an inspiration to those of us who have younger children with Ds. When Timmy was born, his parents didn't know if he would ever be able to lead a "normal" life and do simple things like play ball. Well, the night before he passed away he hit a baseball onto the roof of their house. He did all the things kids his age did and more because he did it all with a gentle soul, a kind smile and lots of hugs for everyone. He was exactly how I picture Miles to be at 12 years old: outgoing, gregarious, athletic, compassionate, fun.....
Anybody's death is tragic, but the death of a child is just....well,
it's intense. Ever since I heard the news about Timmy a week ago I
haven't stopped thinking about his mother. What it must have been like
to walk into her son's room that morning. I don't want to go there, it
scares me to even think about the loss of my son or daughter, but I
can't help it. I'm a mom. And I'm the mom of a child with Down
syndrome, so Timmy's death has hit home in many ways. In 1970 the average life expectancy for a person with Down syndrome was 20 years. Back then it was still accepted for parents to institutionalize their kids with Down syndrome. There was little to no early intervention or decent health care for for those institutionalized and they weren't cared for or loved the way any human should be. So they didn't flourish. How could they? How could anybody?
Today people with Down syndrome live an average of 55 years with many of them living into their 60's or 70's, thanks to science and medicine. But mostly I think it's thanks to the fact that society has started to understand and accept people with Ds a bit more. Back then, people with Ds were considered "less than", unequal, incapable, unworthy. In fact, there are still people out there who feel that way today. Those people have surely never met someone with Down syndrome. They've never received a loving hug from someone with Ds. They haven't experienced the sweet laughter and excitement of a child with Ds. They've never felt the pure love and joy of life that someone with Ds can share. For if they did, they would understand that people with Down syndrome are not less everyone else. They are different, not less. Miles is different, not less. Timmy was different, not less. In fact he was more, for he led his life with true compassion and equality for all. Now there's someone we should all learn from!
Timothy Borquez, thanks for being an inspiration to so many. Thanks for sharing your life with us.
May you Rest In Peace.