thirty-three years ago, when my little brother david was born with downs' syndrome, his condition shocked and devastated my mother. i, on the other hand, had known for years.
i was 13 when the Voice told me my mother would have a baby with down's syndrome. the condition was vaguely familiar to me - in gym class in middle school i was often paired up with the special ed kids, a couple of whom had had it. You can't let that happen, i remember i argued with the Voice. i'm not ready.
i am not sure what i had to do with it, but a couple weeks later, my mother miscarried. i knew it was only a reprieve.
but i said nothing. to no one. i had learned by then not to acknowledge the Voice, no matter how right and true the things It told me were. i had also read doctor spock's baby and child care, and i knew that adults called such thinking "magical." i knew if i said anything at all, it would be attributed to such thinking plus sibling rivalry. and i knew this was beyond that.
the following year, on the first day of school, i sat down at my desk in biology class, and opened the book randomly. it fell open to the section on human genetics and what could possibly go wrong. i remember how my eyes were drawn to the phrase "down's syndrome," and i heard the Voice say "That."
i knew the baby was coming soon.
about a year or so later, my mother announced she was pregnant. and i knew what lay ahead. but again, i said nothing. but i remember i told the Voice, "okay, i guess i'm ready."
why didn't you tell me, my mother asked me, years later, when i finally 'fessed up. what was i going to say, i asked, and what difference would it have made? you would never have done anything about it. and it would only have upset you.
that's true, she said. and then she was very quiet. i do remember, though, she said at last, how when i was saddest and most upset, you'd show up, as if on cue. and you always said what i needed to hear. you always had a good answer. i remember thinking then how unusual it seemed.
my little brother david is special to me in many ways. but not the least of which is that his birth was the gateway for my first experience of what i now understand to be Divine Grace. so happy 33rd, wavy davy... long may your light shine.
and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.