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Dad Breaks Down on Worst Night of His Life. His Son with Down Syndrome Knew Exactly What to Do

Jeff and JJ Church
Frank Somerville/Facebook

Jeff Church’s son may not have understood what was wrong, but he knew exactly what to do.

As reporter Frank Somerville shared on Facebook, Jeff is the owner of Church & Sons Painting Co. in Antioch, California. He’s also the father of JJ, a young man with Down syndrome.

“I would do anything for this dude ❤. I owe him a lot!And here’s just one reason why.”That’s Jeff Church on the…

Posted by Frank Somerville KTVU on Wednesday, October 17, 2018

In order to help others understand more about people with Down syndrome — and to explain why he feels he owes his son so much — Jeff shared the memory of one of the worst nights of his life. It was, “long ago,” and Jeff had just received a devastating phone call, “that made everything in life even worse”:

I felt my world was collapsing around me. I was lost. And with that one call, I had given up hope.

Overwhelmed, Jeff broke down completely. He lay down and, “cried with the heartache of a child.” And he could hear the echoes of his sobs in the dark, cold, empty house.

But he wasn’t alone for long. His son JJ heard him crying and ran upstairs to find his father curled up and crying in the master bedroom. Jeff wrote, “He knew to keep the lights off. He saw I was inconsolable.”

Other people might have asked Jeff what was wrong, why he was so upset. That’s not what JJ did:

He sat on the floor next to me and he held me tight. And he rocked me. And JJ told me: “It go be okay. It go be okay. It go be okay. It go be okay,” in perfect rhythm as he rocked me.

“It go be okay. It go be okay.”

When Jeff had exhausted himself, JJ helped him get in bed, taking off his shoes, kissing his dad’s cheek, and whispered, “You go sleep now. It go be okay.”

After tucking him in, JJ quietly left the room and closed the door behind him. Jeff says he remembers seeing the hallway light for a moment before falling asleep:

That was a rough night. And JJ got me through it. That night, JJ was beyond his years.

Jeff is well acquainted with the limitations that his son faces every day. As he notes, “JJ […] has cognitive delay. He stutters a bit conveying his thoughts.” But like many parents of Down syndrome children, he’s also seen the intuitive emotional intelligence his son possesses:

When it comes to moments of the heart, they’re compassionate and understanding with no conditions. That makes them genuine and real.

It’s a trait that is often brought up in discussions of Down syndrome. Several commenters weighed in to discuss the loving nature of the Down syndrome people they’ve known.

As Jeff concluded, “We should all have a little bit of Down Syndrome in us. They’re way nicer people than we are.”

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