This past weekend we wanted to go out to eat. A good friend joined us. Throughout this pregnancy, I crave steak and pizza – pizza with lots of meats on it. Despite these cravings, I can’t stomach the sight of raw meat. Cooked meat is a totally different story.

We were trying to come up with a place to eat other than our typical fall back restaurant locations. One of us suggested Texas Roadhouse and the other one agreed. This is not a typical place for us to frequent. We haven’t been to Texas Roadhouse in over 3 years.  It was really strange it was even on the table- no pun intended.

We put our name in- Turley party of 3 with a highchair. Then we waited. When our name was finally called, the hostess announced, “Turley party of 6 with a highchair.” Six? I’m not sure where she got six from three. I was starving by this time, and yet I felt bad taking up such a large table with only three of us. I let the hostess know we had less than six in our party. She didn’t seem concerned and sat us at the large booth anyway. My stomach appreciated it.

When we sat down, I noticed the people at the booth next to us- two moms and 4 kids with the oldest being a teenager. That was the extent of my observation. We sat down, got Madeline settled and ordered.

While we were waiting for our food, the teenager turned around to see Madeline. Madeline, in her typical fashion, just stared at the teen. The girl tried to interact with Madeline, but it takes a while for Madeline to warm up to just about anyone. While the girl was talking with Madeline, I noticed she had mental disabilities and she clearly loved babies.

At some point during our meal, the teenage girl got up to use the restroom. She stopped at our table to try to get Madeline to interact with her. Of course, Madeline continued to just stare. The girl’s mom hurried her daughter along to the restroom and apologized for her bothering us. I told the mother she was not bothering us at all and apologized for Madeline’s lack of enthusiasm.

When I looked back at Wayne his eyes were wide and he had a shocked expression on his face. He looked like he’d seen a ghost. He asked, “Did you see the girl’s shirt?” I hadn’t noticed her shirt. Wayne thought he read something about chromosome 18 on the teenager’s shirt.

Now we were curious. Did her shirt really say something about chromosome 18? Wayne peered over the booth at the girl’s mother whose back was to us. She too had a shirt on with “18” written inside of a red heart. We couldn’t believe it. This girl couldn’t possibly have trisomy 18, right?

We had to know.

Wayne introduced himself to the mother and asked about the woman’s shirt. Turns out she is a regional director for a chromosome 18 support group. She is from Indianapolis and her friend is from Kansas City. Their families became friends through the support group. They met in St Louis this weekend… and decided to eat at Texas Roadhouse.

What are the chances of this encounter? Ok, God, we are listening.

Wayne explained our daughter’s recent diagnosis. This woman was far too familiar with chromosome 18 complications. Her daughter does not have trisomy 18, but rather another chromosome 18 complication. However, there are plenty of families utilizing their services who have experience with trisomy 18. She provided us with her contact information and wished us luck throughout our journey.

The three of us sat at the table shocked. We all had tears in our eyes. As we recalled the events of the evening— picking Texas Roadhouse, the confusion with party of 3 vs party of 6, these two out of town moms deciding to meet in St Louis and to deciding to eat at Texas Roadhouse— we realized it was meant to be. We were supposed to meet these women. We were supposed to see how they were supporting each other. We were supposed to see that these women had children after a chromosome 18 diagnosis. We were supposed to be reminded of the support out there for families in our situation. We were supposed to be reminded we are not alone regardless of how lonely this feels right now.

I know I crave meat, but in hindsight, I think I was craving acknowledgment that we are not alone in this journey. I was reminded God is always with us – even while dining on a filet at Texas Roadhouse.

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