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