Cool Ass

I had a long talk with my sister last night. (Actually, she had a long talk with me.) And while I couldn't possibly recount all the things she said, I hung up the phone happy. Actually happy.

I wish I could explain the ways in which Healy is herself kind of...special. I am certain I can't do it justice, it's just...

Healy sees the world through a different lens than most. It may not exactly be rose-colored, but it's close enough. She has heard a different drummer her whole life.

She feels things so, so deeply.

If I could use the word "touched" to mean "blessed with something else, something most of us don't get" I would. That's what it should mean.

Ever since Healy was a little girl, people have said she lives in her own world. My mom was the exact same way. But I think that definition is too limiting. That "other" world is our world, there's just more in it somehow.

If you show Healy a straight line, she'll see it as crooked. If you show her a crooked line, she'll see it as something worth looking at.

As you might imagine, Healy had a tough time in school. She was never diagnosed with any sort of learning disability -- how do you diagnose "sees things differently"? -- but some things just seemed harder for her than for "normal" kids. She just didn't do things the normal way. (She ended up with great grades throughout school anyway.)

And now she teaches children with learning disabilities. "I just get them, Kristy," she tells me again and again. "I know where these kids are coming from. I feel like I'm just like them."

No, Healy wasn't delayed and neither was my mom, but whatever secret language they speak, those kids speak it, too.

"I actually think maybe I'm lucky to get to do this," Healy said to me on the phone last night. She speaks his language. He is special, and she knows they connect in a real, distinct, interesting and special way.

"He's different," she said, "and I love different."

It is true that Charlie is lucky. Because of the career she has chosen -- or the career that has chosen her -- Healy has access to incredible, progressive schools, disciplines, doctors, professionals, minds. The kinds of people who can help make Charlie's an amazing story.

"You know, it's kind of like if the corporate office called my center and said that they were sending a very challenging case to me, because they thought that we would be able to help the kid," Healy said. "It's just that in this case, the corporate center is God. He thought I could do this, so he sent me Charlie."

And then she added, "...or maybe Mom did."

And I didn't cry then, I smiled. Because it's true. Our mom would have loved Charlie, if possible, even more than Healy does. It's that same special language. And if you have to believe in something, why not something like that?

So sure, there's a lot more we have to learn and still plenty we won't know right away. But my fear and frustration and anger has become something more like wonderment. At Charlie, and at my sister and her husband, for being the kinds of people you want to be related to.

"Fuck it, I don't care what they say," Healy said as we were hanging up the phone. "Charlie is one cool ass kid."

And then, "HEY BRIAN!" she suddenly yelled into the background.


I heard enthusiastic murmering in the background.

"He says yes."


  1. Charlie is certainly lucky to have a Mommy like Healy. My oldest son, Patrick, is almost 14 and was diagnosed with a type of Autism called Asperger's Syndrome when he was a toddler. So I can relate to the struggle of not having a "normal" child, whatever that means.

    Some days are challenging to my patience, some days are devastating to my heart, but most days are just spent being glad that I have him. And anyone who feels differently or says things?? I have just learned to have an attitude much like your sister's, who the fuck cares what they think? I have even been known to tell people that to their face.

    (The mother bear instinct to attack when your cubs are threatened is one strong ass instinct).

    Charlie is going to be great. I mean, I have seen pictures, he is beautiful. Just beautiful. And perfect, just the way he is.

  2. To me it sounds as if you have the coolest ass sister!

  3. Hi Kiki,

    I couldn't respond when I read your post yesterday because... well because you had had enough.

    Today it seems you are ready for more and although I don't need to tell you what you already know I will anyway.

    You have a wonderful family. You are a very lucky person to have them. And they are very lucky to have you.

    Thank you for writing.

  4. that's just beautiful.

    you, healy and charlie will all be just fine.

  5. OMG I adore you and your family.

    Consider this old grandma from The Valley your adopted grammie.

  6. So sorry you saw fit to delete my post about http;//

    She's a wonderful alternative medicine Dr who works with families of children with challenges

    I understand.

  7. jillie - I appreciate the link, and I didn't delete it. It's still there.

  8. your family's story brought up a memory i had nearly forgotten. my dad is a watchmaker (weird job, right?) and he was apprenticed to a guy who became a great friend of my family. my dad's mentor had a kid with really severe cerebral palsy- he needed care all the time, but he could talk and play, and his mom and dad adored him. i remember when i was about 5, we went over to their house, and i asked the child's mom, in that awful-rude-but-really-innocent way why she got that kind of kid, one that was broken and not like the other kids (ugh! i can't believe some stuff i said when i was a kid!!). rather than be really offended (which would have been reasonable), i still remember the mom sitting down in her kitchen, and telling me that moms tell her all the time they wouldn't be able to handle a child like hers, and that she got the kid she had because she could handle it and love him exactly how he was, while some other moms maybe couldn't. she was a cool ass mom- ultimately she spent 35 years caring for her son, and as an old lady told me she didn't regret a second of it, that she loved her life. if only every parent loved their child as truly unconditionally as that lady, and as your sister obviously does. go charlie!

  9. I am so happy that Chalie ended up with such a great family. You are all very lucky to have each other!

  10. That one brought tears to my eyes.

  11. Senidng much love and happy thoughts to the Universe for that beautiful little boy...

  12. Wow... Was not expecting to cry... Excellent Post!

  13. Charlie will be okay simply because he has an amazing family who continues to define the word "perseverence" against all obstacles. I know his mom and aunties well and I will have the good fortune of meeting Charlie on Saturday. These 3 woman have exhibited such stregnth through adversity and through it all continued to find the joy in this thing we call life. Charlie is blessed to have them in his life and because of them I know he will be alright....period.


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