He stands before the basketball hoop, gazing up at the perfect blue sky.
His siblings are full of laughter and cheerful shouts as they toss their basketballs heavenward.
I look at the scene and admire their coordination, strength, perfected moves and mobility.
Chaim Boruch is still standing in midst of the “game,” enjoying the team energy of sweat, spirit and high fives.
His hands are empty, limp by his sides.
His head is tilted, possibly deep in thought.
My heart tightens as I notice the lump in my throat.
Questions fill my mind . . .
Is he feeling left out? Is he feeling sad? Frustrated?
Is he longing for a day just to “be the same”?
Tears fill my eyes, and I wonder about everything I see before me.
I don’t have more than three seconds to contemplate any deeper, because there it is.
Beautiful and magnificent.
Incredible and touching.
Spontaneous and planned.
All at the same time.
His little brother shouts out: “Hey, Chaim Boruch, do you want to make a basket?”
And his face lights up as he thrusts his clumsy arms forward to take the ball.
It seems like he was just handed a trophy by the look on his face, at which point my heart melts.
I see Chaim Boruch in slow motion, as he tries to bounce up on his feet, holding the ball tight.
The basketball hoop is 10 feet tall, and it’s a given that he won’t actually make it in.
But there he is. The star of the team, the one they are cheering for.
It’s his moment, in whichever way it comes.
He raises his hands above his head.
His weak fingers drop the ball forward in a magnificent attempt to reach that hoop.
And the crowd goes wild.
Really. It does.
From the 18-month-old standing barefoot, clapping his chubby little hands, to the 18-year-old who pats his back with enthusiasm and delight.
His eight siblings are proud . . . and so am I.
Not just because of Chaim Boruch’s pure spirit, but because of his siblings’ pure spirit.
Their love is so deep, so strong and so resilient.
Their days are not easy with a special-needs brother.
Trips get cut short, outings end in tears.
Feelings get hurt, and the responsibility is heavy.
They worry, they cry, they sit on my bed and tell me about their dreams.
Their dreams of Chaim Boruch talking . . . in the middle of their peaceful night’s sleep.
This is what “special siblings” dream of.
We laugh and we cry.
And we are a team.
When we lose and when we win.
And the players at the game today . . .
are the best players I know.
Each of them won my heart in every way.