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Down Syndrome and Grandpa’s Opal

A letter received to Cat Wayland, IF mag
from Hot Moms Member, Shannon Kernahan, USA


The Kernahan's

Hi Cat,

I saw your posting on Hot Mom's Club and was very interested. I have three children; my youngest Dalton has Down Syndrome. He turned 2 in November and in such a short amount of time we have really been through the ringer with him. He was featured on the front page of our local paper a year ago on a story they ran about the national decline of Down Syndrome births in America because of prenatal screening.

We found out Dalton had a congenital heart defect that required major surgery before we were aware that he had Down Syndrome. Having been given the choice whether or not to go forward with his birth was not empowering for me at all. It was a troubling time filled with tears and anxiety. After I grieved the child I thought I was going to have, I was ready to welcome a child not expected but joyously anticipated.

My Dad who had passed away years previously had been fighting brain cancer. He had several dreams leading up to his death about various things but mostly about things that were broken. He would tell me that in his dream he was given an egg, but he couldn't eat it until he broke it open. The next dream was about a car, one that he had bought. The car was locked in the dealership and the only way to get to it was to break the glass window. The night before I had been reading about opals and their significance.

The only reason that opals shine so brightly is because of tiny broken fissures and fractures within the stone. It is when these stones are broken that air and light can permeate them giving them their luster and beauty. He gave me an opal ring before he died, and said that God was breaking him not because he wanted to destroy him and our family but because it was then that he TRULY BEGAN TO LIVE. He inspired many men through his journey with cancer, including the doctor who tried to save his life.

Dalton is my little rock, my little fractured and broken boy with a heart of gold who is a great reminder of what my Dad taught me. Sometimes when we are broken, that is when what lies beneath the surface of ourselves can truly shine. Sometimes, broken things can be beautiful too.

-Shannon Kernahan
Hendersonville, TN

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