Today is Kelli's birthday. Happy birthday to the poet in the family.
Kelli is my sister. She has autism and epilepsy. She has big blue eyes and thick wavy brown hair. She lives with my parents. Someday she will most likely live with me. She knows how to read, can't speak, but sometimes communicates with facilitated communication -- a controversial practice, but one that my family knows works.
Kelli cannot complain that she is trapped in her own mind. That she will never live on her own, much less marry or have children. Or join the work world. Kelli does not lament about the boredom of her day program, or the unfairness of being unable to drive her own life decisions.
Kelli loves food and loves the people that sneak her the junk food mom won't let her have. She is obsessed with the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and has probably heard it well over a million times. She would marry Billy Ray Cyrus if he asked.
She perseverates -- as the autism language goes -- on things like blood, bleeding, sirens, ambulances and will randomly shout, "Oh! I'm hurt! I'm bleeding! Call 911!" which has brought countless stares by curious strangers and mall security over to us on an occasion or two. (ROFLMAO, as a friend would say.)
Kelli loves slapstick comedy. Someone falling flat on their face will get her laughing so hard that tears will fall from her huge baby blues -- and if I am being honest, the same is true for me. We are truly sisters when it comes to our, perhaps, sadistic sense of humor.
Kelli is my sister, my teacher, that person you may stare at wondering why she is an adult but I am holding hands with her as we walk through the mall. Kelli is vulnerable, a fighter, and a poet.
Happy Birthday NaNa,
May your day be filled with rainbows and a tin man, sirens, achey-breaky hearts, plenty of "snack sticks," an incident of two of mom choking (that will get her laughing) and of dad falling off the edge of the sidewalk stumbling through the grass.