I met someone extremely special on a recent trip our family took to the Zoo. I think she might have changed my life, just a little. We were standing under the canopy at the elephant enclosure, waiting for the 3:00 show to start, when a family walked up behind us. Mom, Dad, an older son maybe 8 or 9, and a little blond girl in a stroller. It wasn’t until Leo reached into the stroller and tried to take the little girl’s sippy cup that I really even noticed them. And then, all I could do was look at the beautiful little girl the Mom was lifting from the stroller. She was precious. All I wanted to do was go over and cuddle her, and fuss over her and play with her. But I didn’t. Not right then, anyway. Because I was worried. I didn’t want her parents to feel uncomfortable, and I didn’t want to overstep my “place” as a stranger, smiling at their beautiful little girl. So I just waved at her a little and asked her parents her name. It was Amelia. She is one year old, just like Leo. I told her parents how precious she was as I touched her hand, and then Leo decided to make a break for the turtle enclosure, so off I dashed after my little explorer. But I couldn’t get Amelia, or her parents and big brother out of my mind. I wanted to go back, to talk to them more, to ask them their story and spend more time with little Amelia and her big brother, who was so excited to point out the elephants to her. The urge stuck with me the entire rest of the day. And then, as we were wrapping up our Zoo adventure, we passed some bleachers on our way out. I noticed the Dad sitting holding Amelia in his arms, with his head down, texting, and my heart overruled my head, it overruled my fear of bothering, offending or freaking the poor man out, and I went over to them. I smiled and struck up a conversation with him, but I had ulterior motives. All I really wanted to do was play with Amelia. I talked to her, and I made faces with her. I held her little hand, and finally, I asked her Dad if I could hold her. Surprised, he passed her to me, and I was so flattered that she came willingly. She sat on my lap, and looked up at me with a little half smile, and I melted. She snuggled with me for a while as her Daddy and I talked, Leo came over to investigate and flirt with her, and then I got a kiss on my arm, and she was ready to go back to her Daddy. As we wound up our conversation, and I got ready to leave with Leo, I couldn’t help gushing over her just a little bit more. I told her Dad how special she was, and how beautiful. I even, to my embarrassment, found myself blurting out, with tears in my eyes, that I would love to take her home with me if I could – NOT exactly the words you want to hear coming out of your mouth when you’re talking to the Father of a toddler at the Zoo. I was pretty humiliated by my raw emotion, at how strongly I had taken to this sweet little girl, and I felt like a complete lunatic, but I really couldn’t help it. As we walked away, I asked my family if I’d embarrassed myself as much as I thought I had with all my gushing. To my relief, they told me that as I’d walked away, the Dad had been smiling and kissing on his baby girl, his texting forgotten. My Dad thought he’d seen tears in the man’s eyes. Maybe he’d never had anyone come up and make a fuss over his pretty daughter before, or at least not a stranger anyway, simply because Amelia looks a little bit different. She has the genetic markers of a person with Down Syndrome. While we’d talked as I’d held her, her Daddy had pulled the neck of her shirt down, just a little, to show me the scar that ran down the middle of her little chest from the open heart surgery she’d had as an infant. He’d told me that they’d known, very early in his wife’s pregnancy, that his little girl would have Down Syndrome. And then he told me what he’d told the Doctors, when they’d started suggesting that there were “options”. “I’m bringing my girl home.” And that’s what I think it was that first drew me to that family, and that gorgeous little girl. Their love. The love they had for her, and the pure love shining out of every pore of her little being. When I’d looked at that family, I hadn’t seen a “disabled” child, or a family with a burden to bear. All I’d seen was a beautiful family, who radiated unconditional love, happiness, and life. Amelia is an incredibly special little girl, and just as her family are blessed to have her in their lives, I feel blessed to have had the chance to have met her. Someday, I hope to be able to love like she does. And someday, I would like to learn more about her differences, and about how to best help others like her.