Fracture Free Friday

This week's "Fracture Free Friday" post is going to be dedicated to all of our siblings, parents, grandparents and other family members who don't have O.I. It'll be for the times "those others" look at us perplexed, with great sadness, helplessness, frustration, worry, concern, joy, pride, relief, and awe. This post is meant to be a "thank you" of sorts for all of their unspoken efforts at trying - because trying goes beyond just caring and being 'there for us.' Trying is a voluntary reaction that comes from within, it is an honest effort that makes an attempt to close the gap that separates hundreds of broken bones and the mysteries of genetics.

On Friday my younger brother, Andrew, graduated from high school. He is seven years younger than me and the youngest in the family. Just as for any other high school senior moving on in that frighteningly busily empty space that is The Next Chapter of Life - he was excited, nervous, but most of all he was thankful. I could tell that Andrew was thankful for the presence of his family, his friends, teachers, members of the school district, and town. Andrew's gratitude and relief was in his smile and his text messages to us, but most memorably it was in the graduation speech he gave as this year's class speaker.

We'll always share in each other's joys & milestones
In his speech Andrew talked about the idea of "other people" and how that idea is a familiar concept to all of us. Whether we were once trying to be straight A students, a team player, or even just a great friend - there have been obstacles that stood in our way that made us believe that achieving our goals wasn't meant for us, that it was for "other people" to do only. But he also spoke about how privileged he and his graduating classmates were to define for themselves what "other people" means. It is through the risks that they take in TRYING new things, taking a stab at a new task, or getting out of their own comfort zones - and through the 4 years of high school he and his classmates were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take these risks  and create their own identity of what "other people" means.

In my every day life I frequently refer to unaffected OI people as "the others" or "the normal ones." Even if I don't say it aloud or I am not consciously thinking so, in my head "other people" are usually the ones who are not disabled, who are taller than me, who are not as fragile, and have proportionally sized limbs. I have come to realize that this definition of "other people" is limiting, unfairly assuming, and in most cases flat out wrong. In other words, I have learned that "other people" are not just a compilation of all the things that I myself lack. It has occurred to me that just as I wouldn't want others to define accomplishments, potential, and ability for me - I shouldn't be doing that myself to others. Keeping an open mind is one piece of the puzzle, but even more so the ability to help others explore what part of you they consider belongs to "others" and vice versa is a practice I think we should all be doing more of. This last piece is what I believe will help everyone transgress more boundaries and ease all of our troubles together; we can feel less alone, feel more supported, and gain more collectively in these connections.

Andrew's speech pointed out this exact point to his classmates as being a "gift." And indeed it is a gift! It's the ability to see not just what differentiates each of us and brings us together that creates connections, but learning how to express and help others discover these aspects in one another as well. If I could in part one piece of advice to family members who are unaffected by OI, I would say that the most helpful thing may not be the most advanced medical breakthrough, the top ranked doctor & hospital, or the clearest x-ray picture. Just being able to try and understand, to breach the mysteries of medicine through empathy and listening to every tear and smile can prove to be the firmest support I could ever ask for.

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