The Many Faces Of Jack McCree

2020 was a good year for me.

It finally sucked for everyone else as much as it generally sucks for me.

I think even my brother Jamie finally understood what’s it’s like to be me, stuck inside, afraid of getting sick, resentful of medical advice, even if it is good for you.

As bad as it was, the freedom that came with it was better. Everyone wearing masks meant I could finally be anonymous.

No being stared at.

No little kids pointing.

No parents shushing them and saying that’s the way God made me.

It’s glorious.

I’ve never had that before.

You tend to stand out when your nose and part of my mouth were missing. People turn into literal fish gaping wondering what happened to me. Pushy Christian ladies say that everything happens for a reason or that they’ll pray for me. I don’t know what those thoughts and prayers are gonna do, if God was the one responsible for this. He saw fit to do this, why would he do anything different?

Mom says I shouldn’t be too harsh, though. ‘Jack, maybe God made the surgeons and surgeries.’

I don’t know about that, but they have been getting better. When I was little, all they could do was cut two holes in my face, and fix my cleft lip. Can you imagine looking like Voldemort for most of your life?

Growing up pain was my one constant friend. I was always healing from some procedure. As soon as I get well enough from one, it was time for the chop shop to have another. Don’t mind my dark humor, it’s just a side effect of growing up “differently abled” as the new term of the day. It’s way better than freak they shouted on the playground that one year I went to regular school.

Mom always tries to see the bright side of things. It must have sucked having a kid like me that coded as soon as I was born. I spent more of my first year in a clear plastic box than I did with her.

Dad bailed on us, though he sent money and kept us on his insurance. That stopped once I hit 18. He wasn’t manly enough to not have a perfect kid, but too prideful to fully abandon his family. He’s remarried now with ‘normal’ kids. His wife sends Christmas cards.

Mom would say I’m morbid because God gave me a broken face and broken family. She always smiles with the people pray for me. She said God was the only one who got her through.

I’m sorry to say I do thank God for the pandemic. My condition put me at the head of the line for a vaccine and with that came freedom. The docs were so worried about Covid, but my lungs and heart are fine, I just didn’t have holes to breathe or eat from. Once I was vaccinated, it’s like the whole world opened up. I could suddenly go into to stores, go to events, and no one hassled me, except the idiots screaming personal freedom. They’re the same group of people who like to pray for but never actually help people like me.

It’s funny though. I’ve needed help my whole life, so now that I can finally help our family, it’s a problem. James always saw me as a burden, a thing to be helped.

Growing up, he never understood—never had any sympathy. I can remember him, sitting and glaring at me, cause we missed a baseball game cuz my trach stopped working or the weeks of visits to the hospital for every infection. My therapist says I have to let it go because he was a kid, but I know he doesn’t see me as anything but something that got the priority—something that was always taking.

That’s why me making more money than him pisses him off. How does burden baby bro become the meal ticket? I took a course on coding and bring in twice was he does a month, all from my room. He’s got his own place and comes over for dinner sometimes, but it’s hard to eat with all that rage across the table. I don’t really blame him, but it’s good to know where he stands.

What he doesn’t get that I’ve been here too. That I know how much my face impacted the whole family so now that I finally have money, I can pay them back and pay for things.

I’m a whole person. I’m more than my face. I’m more than my experiences. I’m a 100% and that’s what matters.

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