four years before my brother was born, my mother got pregnant. i was 13, and i remember being very upset.
it wasn't because i was jealous, even though i knew immediately that everyone would think so. it was because i knew my mother was going to have a baby with mental disablities, and i had enough to cope with. thirteen was a very turbulent year in my world and i remember being angry not at my mother, but at God.
You can't do this to me now, i remember thinking with some awareness of my temerity. i'm not ready for it and neither is anyone else.
the Powers That Be must've agreed, because a few weeks later, my mother had a miscarriage. i remember feeling three things. one was a sense of relief. the other was the knowledge that i could never share my feelings with anyone. and the third was that this was only a reprieve. Heaven had heard, and Heaven had agreed that the time was not yet.
but i knew what was coming.
the next year, my sophmore year in high school, i walked into the first day of biology class, and i opened the textbook lying on the desk. the page fell open to the section describing human genetic anomalies, and the first caption my eyes fell on read "Downs' Syndrome." i heard the Little Voice say clear as a bell, "That."
the year after, my mother got pregnant again. i was junior and had hit my stride. school was good, life was under control. i remember how the world seemed to pause when she delivered the news, at the top of her lungs. "will you kids stop bickering? im pregnant and expecting a baby!"
shocked into silence, my brother john and i just looked at each other. but i knew. and yes, i remember thinking, im ready. i didn't exactly know what i was ready for, but i knew there was an element of my consent involved. yes, i said to the Voice, which seemed to suddenly be very Present, and waiting. yes, i said, i will.
my little brother, david, and i have a special relationship. on the surface, we would seem to have little in common - he's 34, a life-long bachelor, into bowling, horseback riding and opera. i'm a serial monogamist, never picked up a bowling ball in my life, am allergic to horses, and opera makes me itch. and then there's the fact that david will never read above a 3rd grade level.
in actual fact, however, david and i have a lot in common. we both love irish music. we both like to spend the mornings writing. he is the most easygoing of spirits, the gentlest and the kindest of souls. he is the bellwether by which i may judge every other human being. those who are unkind to david are likely - sooner or later - to be unkind to me.
and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.