When Namine was a baby, she shared a room in the ICU with another baby.

Someone was always with Namine — if not holding her, then at least sitting by her side, talking to her, getting her used to people. That was important and formative. We were told often that due to Namine’s many surgeries, she would hate being touched. And if we had ignored her, I’m sure that would be true.

Namine’s roommate had none of that. His family, when they came, did not approach him — to say nothing of actually holding him, or even his hand. When he was held, he was held by the nurse. And he hated it. He rarely stopped crying, except to sleep.

I have no shame in saying that I still feel for him, for what he was denied. I believe it is our experiences, just as much as it is our personalities, that shape who we are and who we become. I can’t help but compare them: Namine would not be who she is, if not for our support system (though what a crude term the special needs community has for it, “support system” — call them what they are: loving friends and family). She would be a different person indeed.

How different might he have been, even through all the pain, if only someone had loved him?