Allen was the baby of a family friend. His mother had babysat me when I was a child and my parents called her #4. As in their 4th child. So when she had a child born without part of his brain stem, my parents wanted to do everything they could to help. I was about 12 or 13 at the time and I remember babysitting for Allen. I am glad that my memories are fuzzy and I am glad that I did not fully comprehend what was going on at the time.
It was easy to watch him. He just laid there. He didn't make sounds, he didn't move, he just stayed in a bouncy seat the entire time. I was scared though. I remember his mother telling me that they were waiting for him to die. And that he could die while I was watching him. What stands out most in my mind is her telling me I could call my mother if something happened, but I couldn't call my father. My dad was a fireman and she was afraid he would have to try to save him. And she would try to explain that she wasn't being cruel, she just thought it was best for him. Of course all of this went over my head at the time. I stayed a couple of hours, read books, talked on the phone, and went home. Within about 6 months Allen had passed away. I remember the funeral so vividly. The tiny coffin, his parents, the tons of people who didn't know what to say. I remember his parents' grief every Sunday in church. You could see their pain and the toll it took on their lives.
I didn't think much about Allen over the years, but reading the stories of Maddie, of Stellen and many other babies, I go back to Allen. There was so much I didn't understand, and I'm glad I didn't. I don't think I could have sat with him if I did. I don't think I could have given those parents that much needed time off. Part of me wonders why my parents put me in such a situation, and another part of me thanks them for using me to ease someone else's burden.