21 Stories for WDSD- The Jastrebski Journey

March 7th- The Jastrebski Journey

When Lauren asked me to do a blog entry, I immediately thought of the article I did when Marc turned 18, and voted for the first time for President Obama.  But alas, I can’t find it, and so much has changed since then, maybe it’s for the best!

I remember vividly the births of all my children, but Marc was my first.  He was due on April Fools Day, 1989, and showed up on April 5.  Finding out his diagnosis, and his medical issues, was very hard.  I had some exposure to people with Down syndrome but not with heart issues, and honestly I cried so hard I wasn’t sure WHAT to feel.  And then I looked at that little face.

I won’t tell you that all the tears stopped right away, or that there was an AHA moment when the love outweighed the fear.  We didn’t have resources like Facebook and Twitter, where we could reach out and immediately read positive stories, and hear congratulations, and find help, in the dark hours of the night when it hurt really badly.  But gradually our world that was turned upside down by all of the challenges, turned into fighting for our son’s life, and then turned into fiercely loving that same little guy.

He became the glue that ties our family together.  When his first little sister, Sara, was born, I didn’t think there could be any more love in my heart when I would watch them together.  They became close friends, and true siblings that would fight and love and play.  And then Rachel came along, and more love!  She became not just his sister, but through the years his baby.  He would feed her, help change her diaper, and she would wrap him totally around her finger.

His school years were just like most, up and down.  He rode the regular bus in middle school, but not high school.  He participated where he could, and developed his own, unique personality, as all kids do.  We heard all the platitudes – “they’re so loving”, “god only gives special people to special parents”.  And I have lost track of how many times people STILL ask me or his sisters what he wants to eat at a restaurant, and we say ASK HIM!

But at age 28, almost 29, the best thing I can say about Marc is he absolutely loves life, and shares that love with the people that surround him.  If I have any regrets, it’s spending too much time worrying about his future.  He works, he has friends, he loves sports, he made it through four heart surgeries and works to help other people overcome their fear of medical, dental and personal care procedures.  He can bring a smile to even the most grumpy people, and can be a total pain in the a** as well.  He will most likely never be a rocket scientist, but how many of us will?

Marc is the perfect HIM!

About the Author: Deb Jastrebski and her family, children Marc – 28, Sara – 25 and Rachel – 22, along with the kids’ dad Bill, reside in New Castle County, DE.  Deb is founder and CEO of Practice Without Pressure (www.pwpde.org), Bill has been the national Customer Service Manager for SEW-Eurodrive, Bridgeport, NJ for 30 years.  Marc spent eight years working at Bell Plumbing Supply, Sara is in vet school at University of Pennsylvania, and Rachel is graduating this spring from University of Delaware.  Although Deb and Bill separated in 2005, their family is very close and participate in Special Olympics Delaware year-round.