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Matthew

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Diseases, disasters, death…I always heard of these things happening to people but somehow thought they’d never happen to me. It was as if I was an exception to the world. I vividly remember the day that I became just another statistic though. My brother, Matthew, laid enslaved on a hospital bed July 4, 2006 hooked up to IVs, not knowing what the doctors had found, impatiently awaiting results. Matt had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, a manageable disease with painful and often deadly repercussions later in life. At the time he was a solid healthy 16 year-old, but to me he was much more than just an ordinary teenager. Of course Matt was my brother, so naturally we were very close, but our relationship was noticeably closer to the point of being best friends. He taught me so much about being an individual and upholding morals that I had previously felt unsure about. After middle school I had been convinced of social Darwinism: that only the prettiest, smartest, most athletic girl would get noticed and appreciated. I had to conform to survive. He certainly opened my eyes and helped me see that there is more to life than the material world has to offer.

Being such a enthusiastic and undeserving kid, the thought that Matt could be afflicted with such a threatening disease didn't make sense to me. Surprisingly, my brother faced his diabetes with an assertive outlook, possibly in a more positive way than those around him reacting to his own misfortune. Still today he has to deal with painful shots, fluctuating blood sugars, and demanding diets for the rest of his life. There’s no way around it, but through it all, he displays strength and perseverance, more than anyone I know. Notwithstanding the extensive physical struggle caused by diabetes, not a day has gone by where Matt has let his circumstances hinder him living his life thoroughly and completely. Facing such a harsh reality as diabetes assuredly puts a damper on the rest of your life and it’s a mystery how he remains so fervent through it all. He was presented with a situation that few could stand up to and he chose to make the best of it and to overflow his life with opportunity and excitement rather than letting something else dictate his life for him. Matt not only applies this philosophy to certain parts of his life, but in everything he does he takes advantage of our precious gift of life. Matt has taught me that even though everyone goes through struggles, it’s how you respond to them that make you who you are.

He has been my role model for two years now and I’d like to think he has rubbed off on me. One day last summer we were checking out at Home Depot and Matt had to sneeze. Of course being the gentleman he is, he turned away from me to sneeze, but just as he inhaled, a huge gust of wind came. As he released the sneeze, spit came flying towards me only to drench my face in slobber. To say he successfully coated my face would be an understatement. While the normal reaction would be to become enraged and furious at the filthy sight, sometimes you can’t control your situation and have to take a step back. What was done was done, so what other options did I have? There’s nothing that could take that sneeze back, but we cherished the situation and died laughing right there in line to check out at Home Depot. Even though there was a good chance of looking a bit insane, instead of getting frustrated at someone I love for an accident, sometimes you just have to laugh at the unfortunate experience. Life throws us curve balls such as these on a daily basis but your response is the key to the outcome of the situation. Now, Matt and I can look back on this as a memory and keep laughing about it.

For the majority of my sophomore year, I spent a lot of my time getting acquainted with Matt and his friends through lively encounters such as this. They were a mature and outgoing bunch of ten, and soon we outgrew the stage where I was merely Matt's sister, but now I was admitted into the group. I was invited everywhere they went and I would hang out with them whenever I could. The drawback to spending so much time together is that they were all seniors at the time and no matter how well of friends we became, they would still leave after they graduated to go off to various colleges. That would all be fine except that left me my junior year with very few friends. I know I could have became better friends with people I didn't care for as much to help transition, but I looked at the situation I had been given and decided to make the best of it. I couldn't change the fact that I had grown particularly fond of these seniors, nor did I want to change it. I didn't want to settle for less than the best so I spent every moment I could with my friends, cherishing the time I had left with them. Although I could have weaned myself away from them, I believe that it's important to hold dear every moment in life and not back down just because a challenge is coming.

Often in life there are situations that can completely ruin the day or even break your heart, but I believe those things can only happen if you let them. It’s not so much the situation you are faced with but rather the manner in which you respond. Matt has taught me to make the best of every situation no matter what the circumstances you are put under. When I am faced with challenges I don’t try to change the past, but accept the facts and understand the situation so I can make it the best I can. I don’t think there’s any need to get mad about little things and when the occasional crucial episode comes along all you have to do is evaluate the various resolutions. Life only has to be a battle if you make it one, and I firmly believe that. Instead of sulking when faced with a burden, make the best of the situation and be productive towards finding the most positive outcome. I believe life is often unfair and you're not always going to get your way, but maybe if you embrace with the situation before hand, you just might find a blessing, an opportunity, a chance to really live.





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