Friday, May 13, 2011

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Invisible Heartache

Had he lived, my brother would be turning 32 next week.

We might have gathered at my parents' house, to celebrate with a BBQ and beer on their deck. Instead, I will call my parents and picture them standing on the deck gazing out at Andrew's Memorial Garden, where a bench sits waiting and flowers are beginning to bloom.

This afternoon, I had a brief but intense conversation with a stranger about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This woman, newly adopted-former-foster mother to "TJ" was almost painfully forthright about her son's diagnosis. Taking my cue from her, I offered up my own memories of life with a person who suffers permanent, irreversible brain damage.

"If he had Down's Syndrome or something more visible, the world might have cut him some slack," I said as TJ's mum nodded emphatically. She knows. She - and her son, shrieking happily with mine - live with that frustration every day.

"The challenge for you," I told her, "is not your son. It's everyone else's perceptions of him AND you."

The truth of that hung in the air between us and for a moment more, we clung to it: two strangers bound, ironically enough, by broken cords and damaged angels.

A few minutes ago, I read an article about a couple whose THREE adopted children have been diagnosed FAS/D and the toll the raising of their kids is taking - financially, emotionally and otherwise.

Coincidence? Ha. No way. And so I glanced at my brother's photo, raised my eyes to the sky and began this post. Okay, Bamboo. I get it. I GET it. I shall make your story, mine.

Gentle Warrior, Gone

Coming soon...


  1. I have really been enjoying your blog, so many stories ring true. FASD is probably more widespread than we know, and can cause such heartache for individuals, families and friends.

  2. Thank you, Anon. Glad you're reading...and commenting. I agree that FAS/D is a widespread issue, far more than most realize. The only "cure" for it is prevention education. Long roads ahead for many.

  3. "Okay, Bamboo. I get it. I GET it. I shall make your story, mine."

    This is why I read your writing: beautiful and raw and real. And sometimes funny, but now always. You do it all.

  4. Thank you, Leanne - what a wonderful, wonderful compliment. M'wah!

  5. I look forward to each of your posts Liz.


  6. Thanks, LIsa! I mostly look forward to writing them. This topic is close to my heart, obviously. Breaks it, too.

  7. It's amazing reading this post as I was sitting there between you two as you shared these words. It's really amazing how moments like these come into our lives. You both are smart strong woman but we all need these moments to feel we are not alone. A writing such as this that makes us take a different perspective on situations to me is the most amazing writings of all!!! Love it!

  8. Did you get that same sense then, Tracy? That "TJ's" mum and I suddenly exploded into each other's sphere and walked away different - shaken, but grateful. It was intense, eh?

    That convo stayed with me the whole rest of the day. In fact, I imagine that it will never leave me, now.

  9. I felt like there was something very special in that moment between you, TJ's mom and an awakening within my thoughts! I feel like I haven't had time to put my finger on it and just ponder all that you had mentioned but there's something within that conversation that really resonates with me!