You don’t know me, but I’ve been thinking about you all afternoon.
You’re there, flanked by Mum and Dad. He’s filling the space with too busy conversation; motor racing, tennis, classic cars.
She’s staring at her hands, messing with her handbag to hide the shaking. Occasionally she smiles, laughs at your Dad’s observations. But she’s not really listening.
Any talk is better than to admit where we are. You’ll see the doctor right after me. There’s only one reason you’re here.
You don’t know me but I am your older brother.
On my knees sits a blue plastic folder, two inches thick with reassurance. Letters that say I’m looked after. Booklets that tell me what I’m going through. Printouts with answers to questions I didn’t know I should ask.
On yours sits a single sheet of paper, empty but for today’s date, a time and a doctor’s name.
You’re smart, patient, fresh. In three months time, you’ll have grown to my age, and you’ll have a folder too.
You don’t know me but you are the first to make me cry.
In you I see my new self for the first time. In you I watch myself three months ago, waiting eager but empty for the meeting you’re about to have.
I wish I’d introduced myself; taken your number; told you it will be OK. By now you’ll know it won’t be.
You don’t know me. But I’ll be thinking of you as we grow old together.