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.
"ISN'T CHARLIE THE MOST COOLEST ASS KID YOU'VE EVER MET?"
I heard enthusiastic murmering in the background.
"He says yes."