My twin brother, Danny, could say twelve words: Eh. Eh-eh. Hi. Yeah. More. Momma. Dada. I-an. Arra. Dayday. Annie. Eddie. The last time I visited him, I wanted just one.
“Say ‘I-an,’” I said.
We were in the intensive care ward at the Cleveland Clinic. It was Sunday. My parents had called me earlier that day to say that Danny’s pneumonia was getting worse and they didn’t know if he’d make it much longer. Danny was born with severe cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities, used a manual wheelchair, and relied on caregivers for most things. He lived in our parents’ house for 23 years and then transferred to a group home, where in the last five years, his health had declined. He got a feeding tube to prevent bouts of pneumonia, but during a recent readjustment of the device, a doctor poked a hole in his intestine, giving him a severe blood infection that sent him into cardiopulmonary arrest. He was in the hospital again for what we feared would be the last time.