All people in life see things differently. I have a younger brother. To me, he is a fourteen-year-old kid named Joe, with blond hair and blue eyes. To others, he is different. Where I see a kid who just needs a lot more attention, others see a mentally disabled boy, a kid who cannot walk or talk or think for himself. I see someone who just makes daily routine a bit less routine. Others see an annoyance, a bother.
This is not to say that I have never felt resentful toward Joe. He is my brother, and with that comes responsibility. "Gina, could you stay in tonight and watch your brother?" "Gina, do me a favor and feed him dinner and change his diaper later, please?" "Could you come home right after school today and get Joe off the bus?"
These are phrases that I have heard since I was twelve. They are phrases that I will never stop hearing, because my mother will always need my help. And sure, they have made me resent my brother to a certain extent. I would think, That's not fair, everyone else can stay after and be a member of this club, or get extra help from that teacher. Or, All my friends are going out tonight, why can't I? And, How come I have to feed him? He's not my son. And he isn't my son. He's my brother.
However, the small amount of resentment I feel toward my brother is erased a thousand times over by what I have learned from him. Besides making me responsible from a young age, and helping me be more accepting of all kinds of people, he has taught me to be thankful for what I have.
I know that there are moments in my life that I should cherish, that Joe will never experience. He will never laugh so hard that he cries. He will never feel the glory of a straight-A report card. He will never feel the wind in his hair as he skis a black diamond trail in Vermont. He will never feel the excitement of playing triple overtime in a Western Mass Field Hockey preliminary game, or share the anguish of loss with teammates. He will never console a best friend crying on his shoulder. He will never fall in love. And he will never know how much his family loves him.
Because he will never know, it is up to me to know, every second, how lucky I am. It is up to me to realize that life should be lived to its fullest, that you should give everyone a chance, that you should give 110 percent in every aspect of your life, and that you should always, always be grateful that God, or whoever are the powers that be, gave you the ability to live your life the way you were meant to live it. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.