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Wishing the Varlotta Family a Happy Ending

posted Friday October 9th, 2009

This week, New Times published my first cover story in a year — the beginning of a series called “Lost Kids”. It’s the kind of story I used to write a dozen times a year. And yet, it’s not.

I hate to admit that motherhood (particularly, mothering Sophie) has changed how I approach telling other people’s stories, but it has. I don’t know that it made this story any better from the reader’s perspective, but it cut me to the quick, telling this one.

Niki Varlotta is quite a mom. As much as I asked her about her son Alex, in the two-plus years I followed her family, she wanted to know all about Sophie, too. She didn’t have to ask — she’s just that kind of person. She wanted to know. She really cares. We talked about other stuff, too. Books, music. About our “typical” kids and how having “special” siblings — so different and yet unified by their differentness — affects them, for both good and bad.

I’ll miss her. And yet, I’m terrified she’ll call — to share the next scary chapter of her family’s story. I hope I don’t hear from Niki, save a Christmas card or a book recommendation.

That family deserves a happy ending.

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Tags: Filed under: journalism by Amysilverman

2 Responses to “Wishing the Varlotta Family a Happy Ending”

  1. Wow.

    I used to hate it when people would talk to me about Down syndrome as a “good” diagnosis. But I understand it.

  2. Beautifully written! When will the severly mentally ill be able to get treatment without jumping through such insane (sorry to use that word) hoops???

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