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Hudson's Journey: EXTRA Kisses at Midnight


Happy 2024! 

   As we all plan for the coming year, the possible and impossible resolutions made, the highest hope for a better tomorrow, I know whose hands our future falls in: Our children.

   Linda Creed wrote the lyrics for the mega hit that originally was recorded by George Benson and later by the great Whitney Houston: “Greatest Love Of All”. I was eleven in 1986 when Whitney's first album released, so everything Whitney sang was played on my record player that had disco lights; with me singing and dancing on my bed (and even in my driveway) like no one was watching. 

   After Thanksgiving, we were traveling home and this hit came on the radio. Tears didn’t stop when I heard the lyrics that I have heard 1000’s of times before. I was thinking about Hudson and all of his tomorrows ahead; he is our future, too. 

“I believe the children are our future

Teach them well and let them lead the way

Show them all the beauty they possess inside

Give them a sense of pride to make it easier

Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be

   We all know these words well. Even as I am typing them, tho, they have a renewed meaning to me, just like the hope for our new year. Our focus gets on the tasks of today, but what if we put more time into tomorrow. Teach, show, give and let the (my favorite) laughter all be more contagious. 

But many don’t know why it was important for Whitney to record this one.

Her words: “Our young people need to hear that song and realize it’s about loving yourself. If you can love yourself through all your rights and wrongs and faults, then that’s the greatest love of all.” -Whitney Houston

   The world is hard to understand, but Gods love isn’t. 

   My husband treated me to a Holiday Special with LeAnn Rimes for my birthday. Ms. LeAnn said that the world would be a better place if when we looked at one another, that we understood that we were looking at the face of God in each of us. It would, hopefully, stop us from saying things we don’t mean or shouldn’t say. It would likely give us more graceful moments with humanity. LeAnn also stated that how remarkable we are with our own unique set of fingerprints that will never be duplicated and the marvel of this mind-blowing thought. 

   The face of God is in ALL of us. We are His creation. 

   As I have moved from being the future to raising the future, I know we have so much to learn from my son. At 5 years old, he has opened my eyes to wanting a better world. I didn’t know how much was wrong with the status quo until his birth. My uncle just visited to be Santa for our Gulf Coast Down Syndrome Society’s Christmas Party. He shared that he was invited to The White House with President Bush to be on the West Lawn for the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. I was clueless to his involvement with ADA and his input on helping this monumental act become law. Seriously!? How did I not know? Because it didn’t have any meaning in my personal life. I could be mad at myself for my selfishness, but instead of getting angry, I am doing “more” to make up for my ignorance. My uncle even shared that it is his “greatest accomplishment” to have helped with this, but also his “sore-spot” in how it has been misinterpreted and twisted to reduce employment opportunities for people with disabilities. As far as its good, the ADA has shown our nations commitment to people with disabilities full civil and human rights. This act protects against discrimination of people with disabilities, too.  The U.S. Census Bureau in 2021 stated that there are 42.5 million Americans with disabilities. Of those, it was stated that over three million are children (0-18) with disabilities. There was an uptick of 0.4% from 2008 to 2019. 

   What I get from this is that we have three million children with disabilities here today to learn from, that we have an opportunity to make the future brighter for many. In 2020, the census bureau says that the United States has 73.1 million children. What I take from this is that we have 70.1 million children to teach about their peers with disabilities. Allow them to be educated about our differences and let them be accepting of God’s gifts in the way He designed. Our future is them. 

   Hudson is beautiful on the inside and out. He has and gives such joy. Hudson’s journey is different than that of typical 5 year olds, but it is not bad or wrong, it is his. It’s an opportunity to learn; for him AND for you and me. When we learn, we can teach. When we teach, we can bring change. And those changes can become normal behaviors of inclusion and acceptance. A celebration and a hope that is needed more than ever. 

   The 2024 celebrations are here, the need for a better future is now. So let’s bring in this year with EXTRA kisses at midnight and a promise of a beautiful tomorrow for all. 

And it would be good to make a few EXTRA resolutions, too.