Brandon This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   As he lay silent and still, the feeding pump slowlydripped into his small, frail body. It looked as though he was dead, but thereadings reminded us that he was technically alive. His cheeks were swollen fromthe steroids, and red from the heating lamp that hung over him. Every so often wewould see his swollen legs kick, and imagine for a moment that he had feeling,but then realize it was just another spasm that neither his body nor his braincould control. He was paralyzed. His bright blue eyes were covered by heavy lidsthat had neither strength, nor reason to open - he was blind. His golden hairgently brushed his deaf ears. Innocent and sweet, he reminded me of anangel.

I can barely remember how my family and I were ever told about thisdesperate child who needed a home. Brandon came not to live with us, but tocreate a memory we could never forget - his death.

Years ago, my familytransformed from a traditional, nuclear family, into a "fos-adopt"family. We've adopted five children, fostered two, and, of those seven, we havelost two to tragic syndromes. Brandon, born a normal child, was taken from hishome when, at three months, he was shaken so badly by his father that he had afractured vertebra directly below his brain stem, causing irreparable damage tothe brain. This abuse cost him his life.

I walked into his room for thelast time and kissed him good-bye. I'll never understand how his father couldhave battered such a defenseless being. In his vegetative state, Brandon was asaware of my presence as my baby sister's rag doll is aware of hers. Brandon haddied months ago when his life was stolen from him. To love a child who could notreturn love and was without hope created great confusion and despair for me andmy family. Placing the child in our home gave time for his mother to understandBrandon's condition. In the course of the next six months, we slowly gained hertrust. She was finally able to make the decision to release him from thenightmare of non-living that modern science had thrust upon him.

The nextday the ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital where they would disconnectthe machines that pumped his lungs full of oxygen. I thought for days about thisvery moment, and knew it would be very quick, yet everlasting for me and myfamily. Brandon "died" within five minutes of the doctors turning offthe artificial life support. Brandon's cause of death on his death certificatereads, "Shaken Baby Syndrome."

I believe it was murder.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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