I was the only non licensed care provider in the room and seventeen years later I still haven't figured out how I got there. It was a meeting with medical directors, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers about how we could address a community need of assisting an unrecognized but growing population or tap into a market not yet exploited. This, of course, was all depending on the way you looked at it. The way you looked at it said something about who you were.
The room could have been a school cafeteria with more than one hundred tables yet it only had one at the north end as far as possible from the single door. There were ten of us there, a meeting that had been scheduled a month earlier. Enough of a notice that I had asked my younger brother to pick up my child from a local daycare in the United States since I joked that the meeting would be in Canada. A joke because it was only an hour away but I would be driven there in someone else's car. The someone else's car was my medical director who enjoyed taking her physical disability out on those with lesser mental capacities. Basically anyone else around her.
When whoever's secretary opened the door and began walking across the room on the tile floor I counted the clicks of her heels as they met the surface and I looked at the clock. It was twenty-five minutes past the moment my boy was to be picked up. I had already developed a nervous twitch from attempting to rely on my brother to help me with my son. Looking back in that moment it was my fault. Though my brother lived with us, he was an art student with classes and the stresses of college and the inability to understand what it would be like to be left with a woman who was nice enough but basically just wanted to get home.
I tapped my pen on the table, attempted to look calm and thought, Please God, don't say Josh forgot Slater, slept through picking him up. It's almost noon. I told him how important this was.
God chuckled, It'll be okay.
The lady whispered in the director's ear and then he announced to the table, Shea, you have an important phone call.
My son. My fault.
Seventeen years later, early on a Wednesday morning Josh called.
I have something to tell you.
We're having a baby.
Oh my gosh, I am so excited.
Yeah. We're thinking once you move back you can help babysit.
Definitely. I've been planning a huge series of abandonment episodes but don't worry I won't actually leave or forget your child. I'll always be near, maybe crouched down in some shrubs videotaping his little face, the disappointment when he realizes nobody is there to pick him up. Kinda like home movies I think you'll want to see them.
That's it. We won't ask you to help.
I had been practicing the maniacal laugh for the seventeen years, Ah but yes you will, and it's okay. I'll rescue him at the last minute. Don't worry.
I think that was the moment Josh noticed the early developmental stages of a nervous twitch. Maybe a slight spasm of an eye muscle.
Welcome to parenting, my brother. I love you and your sweet, sweet, I can't wait to hold him, we're gonna have so much fun, oh dear, my nephew, your child. We're having a baby! yay.
Today I am grateful to be a part of beginnings and the excitement of new life which promises that one day when my brother calls to say, You're the last one. We need you. Can you please help us? Don't you dare leave him. I can honestly respond, I'll be glad to help. You can depend on me.
Before we get off the phone his eye will twitch and that's all I needed, just for him to know what it's like.