A mother wants to share her son's incredible witness of perseverance and affection.
“Your little Louis is suffering from a rare syndrome. One of his chromosomes has been badly constructed, and he has the most severe form of cognitive retardation,” said the doctor to Florence and her husband, in early 2016. It was a thunderbolt out of the blue sky for this French family living in the Netherlands.
Louis, the fourth among his siblings, was nine months old. Florence had been worried since the end of her pregnancy because of a delay in his growth. Then she became suspicious because of how calm her baby was; he never cried. She brought her concerns to her doctor, who ordered a series of tests that finally discovered the cause of these symptoms.
Three difficult years followed, punctuated by Louis experiencing repeated bronchiolitis and pneumonia, requiring long periods of hospitalization. Today, however, Louis has just celebrated his 5th birthday, has learned to walk, and has welcomed a new little brother.
The incredible thing is that, without making speeches or doing grand deeds, he inspires all those who approach him to love more unconditionally. It’s a love of unconditional self-giving, that goes beyond differences.
A fresh look at differences
It was during the long hours she spent sitting on an uncomfortable chair in the hospital that Florence, faced with her son’s vulnerability, chose to love, despite any obstacles or problems. “Become what you should be, Louis, and you will set the world on fire!” she thought at the time.
That’s when she decided to accept imperfection for good. It was a transformation of her perspective and of her heart that has been with her ever since. She told Aleteia,
Since Louis’ birth, my view of human beings has completely changed. Louis made me reborn. When I’m facing another person, I try to look at them as if I were looking at Louis: without judgment, with a whole, global, crazy love. Having Louis in front of me is ultimately a constant call to open my horizons, all the time.
It’s a discovery that she applies first and foremost to those close to her: “The more I love Louis, the more I love my other children too, with this revolutionized, amazed heart, and that helps me to accept their shortcomings.”
“The syndrome is what he has, not what he is”
Looking beyond the disability, Florence remains attentive to Louis’ nearly miraculous perseverance, courage, tenderness and abandonment. “The syndrome is what he has, not what he is,” she emphasizes forcefully. She finds herself deeply touched by his perseverance in learning to walk, to speak, to move … “I wouldn’t have had the patience!” she exclaims.
He also has an incredible power to let his heart speak, until he moves to tears the adults who take him in their arms. “He hugs with immense depth,” Florence says with amazement.
They are heart-to-heart hugs, without any words, but with an enormous power, because I often see people crying! What power he has to be able to snuggle, being so small, in the arms of an adult and to make them cry without having said a word!
Florence wants to share all these treasures of tenderness, listening, and empathy that Louis awakens in those who approach him, who cradle him in their arms.
“Through Louis, it is the Lord who guides us”
Florence is a devout Catholic, and she has been praying the Rosary live every morning on Instagram during the pandemic with her family. She is convinced of one thing: “The Lord is in Louis’ heart; He is in Louis’ presence.”
This deep certainty allows her to turn to God and ask him,
Lord guide us, transform our hearts, turn our minds upside down so that we understand that this child, who is behind in everything, will guide us, because through him it is You who guide us. We will stumble, and we will cry, but we will move forward.