I see her in the supermarket, eight years old with straight sandy blonde hair. She is next to her father, peeking over the freezer bin. She has the unmistakable face of a child with Down Syndrome, something I am acutely aware of now. I look up at the man beside her- he is not Chris and his daughter is not Mabel. But for an instant she was.
I walk into the library and choose the door on the right. The one on the left is has the blue handicapped placard on its center. I see a little girl, five years old, head down hands out, pushing against that door. Her tongue sticks out of the corner of her mouth in little-kid exertion against the heavy door that is no match for her little frame. I blink and she is gone.
I walk down the bike path with a friend, bikes whizzing by, an occasional jogger and many other walkers out enjoying the day. I see the mom walking with her teenaged son, another face revealing the features of Down Syndrome. I see a teenaged girl in a loose dress trudging along beside them. I smile at their puppy love. My friend notices the boy too and squeezes my hand. I take a deep breath in and the girl fades away.
I walk to my bedroom and eye the open door to the guest room. I see a crib in the corner with a mobile hanging over it. I lean over the railing and spy a chubby pink baby, legs in cast, arms flailing, hair matted from a hot slumber. She looks up at me and her eyes sparkle as a smile takes over her lips, recognizing her mother. And then I am back in the hallway, looking through the open door at a dresser strategically placed where the crib would have gone. I turn away and continue on my day.