The Weight Of The World: The Strength of a Mouse
There comes a time in all of our lives when difficult conversations are at hand; maybe through a divorce, maybe a terminally ill sibling, maybe a dying parent. These are never easy conversations, but necessary, nonetheless. Fully wrapping our heads around these topics can be challenging, and no amount of experience or preparedness seems to ease the level of difficulty. Perhaps the most pure balance between emotional fortitude and intellectual firepower most of us will ever experience, your or my navigation of these waters is not to be judged. After all, there cannot be a wrong way to do it.
My brother just completed a four day mini-vacation here in Austin. We don’t get to visit as much as we’d like, certainly as much as I’d like, so these brief inundations of each others life are appreciated, although stressful. I’ve written many times before of my brother’s struggles, his Fragile X diagnosis in adolescence, and his continual fight towards what society considers to be “normal” – with respect, you should know I have a healthy loathing for that word. The idea of being normal, or even worse, abnormal, can be one of the most emotionally damaging aspects of our humanity. My brother is no exception. He’s been called every name in the book, and still, he finds a way to tune it out and locate happiness. Through the assistance of special services, he landed a job as a food prep assistant at a local restaurant. He chops lettuce, he brews the coffee, and on a “good day” he is allowed to cook the bacon. It’s a job he loves and takes great pride in.
This week’s visit was different than most, in fact, decidedly different. Over dinner one night he asked what “we’re going to do when mom and dad are gone?” Although I giggled light heartedly, it was clear by his facial expression that he was not kidding. He was, in fact, as serious as I’ve ever seen him. His concerns were fairly simple and straightforward. Well into his 30’s, he depends on my parents to plan his meals, to manage his money, to provide a roof to sleep under, and to coach him on the tougher social interactions. What will he do when that security blanket is gone? Beyond the playgrounds and the backyards, beyond the video games and the ten-speeds, and well beyond the boyish wrestling match taking place on your nearest twin mattress, are adults whose life is challenging. Their stresses will not be found in the stock market or in a resume; rather, something much more complex.
Am I smart enough to survive?
Between my older sister and me, my brother will be cared for well beyond my parent’s life. Although solid plans have not been laid, clearly the signs are there that beginning this conversation has become important to him. None of us wants to discuss it, but it’s a weight and worry that he, himself, is not strong enough to manage alone. Nor should he have to.
I understand this blog is dedicated to Vision Therapy, and of all the posts I’ve written, this one probably has the least amount to do with vision. It does, however, have everything to do with my life as a Vision Therapist, my passion for helping people who struggle, and my desire to advocate for those who cannot stand for themselves. For my money, there is no greater pleasure than reaching out and to help a struggling someone succeed. Vision Therapy has given me every opportunity to do just that, and I am beyond grateful for it.
Although he may never realize it or even understand enough to find an appreciation, this passion in my heart is my brother’s doing, it is his creation; which by extension, makes the people I help his legacy. That is a badge I will wear with pride…