That one time when my brother saved my life

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

That One Time When is a place where we want to share your stories of how your life has been impacted by someone with Down syndrome! If you would like 
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Today's post is by Linda Marie.

I always knew my big brother was different, from a very young age we had a bond unlike any other relationship in my life. A world of difference from the bond I had with my little brother, Bobby. I always knew he was different but I didnt realize how special he was until the 7th grade when I threw a book at a bullys head who was making fun of a girl in our class who also had Down syndrome. It was very apparent my brother wasnt like the other kids.

Our favorite game growing up was checkers. We spent every weekend at our grandparents' house; there we played on a rug that had a large checkerboard pattern on it. We would separate out our Ninja Turtles, Wrestlers, and Power Rangers toysthose would be his pieces. They were obviously the superior toys, OBVIOUSLY. And my pieces would be various Disney and Looney Tunes toys, Treasure Trolls, and those small plastic Barbie toys that came in McDonald happy meals. (90s toys were by far the coolest). We would sit on each side of the rug and play checkers for hours. We were very competitive. I would like to think I was better but that probably isnt true.

We loved our Nintendo, the original NES of course. My big brother was better than me in Duck Hunt, Super Marioactually, he was better than me in most things. We learned our numbers and letters together, watching Sesame Street. We taught ourselves to read with books on tape, side by side; Im pretty sure we had every book and tape that they ever created. Thats right, tapes, CASSETTE TAPES.

We amused ourselves. Annoyed each other. Goofed off. Brawled. We rivaled for affection and attention. We learned from each other. Sometimes I was the only one who could understand him and communicate for him. He flirted with all my girlfriends. We shared our crushes with each other. He would display how I needed to pick up guys: "you must be direct, compliment, compliment, compliment, and most importantly always be cool." Sage advice. He protected me as any big brother would. We were best friends. I wouldnt realize how fundamentally important that relationship would be growing up, until many years later.

My big brother, Christopher John, is 31 years old now and Im 29. Im now married to the love of my life, and as important as my husband is, there is absolutely no doubt my relationship with my big brother is the most important one in my life. (If my little brother reads this, I love you too!). Chris has shaped me into the person that I have become. This might be cliché but he really has taught me how to love. Hes the most caring, devoted, and affectionate human being Ive come across. He brings out the goofiness in me and shows me how to not take life so seriously. Because of him I love deeply and without discernment. He has taught me how to always stick up for the underdog. He sincerely has effected my whole family, we are one of the most giving, empathic, and forgiving families. No other man holds the key to my heart.

He gave me a reason to live at times when I didnt think I could make it through another day. He knew exactly when I needed someone to tell me "it was all going to be okayor when I needed a pair of arms to wrap around me. His intuition is amazing. He was by my side as I worked through my mental illness. During the darkness of days he was the only person that was able to shine the light. The only person that could put a smile on my face. Offer a shoulder to cry on. Without judgement, without rejection, he pulled me through when I was all alone. 

"Good Morning Sunshine, did you have a nice nap?" is how Christopher greeted me every morning. He gave me the courage to start each day as it was the first day of my life. He ignited a fire in me that I thought to be gone. Going home a few years ago and spending that time with him saved me. Christopher John saved my life.

Im not going to lie, it hasnt always been a bed of roses growing up with a person with Down syndrome. In fact, sometimes it was, and still is, very exhausting. Some days I detested how every moment of our days were defined by his schedule. Spontaneous is not a vocabulary word in a world with a person with Downs. At times I would resent the special treatment he would call for. The favoritism and attention he would get. Some days there was just nothing that could stop a tantrum. Arguing with his stubbornness is just utterly impossible. Simple tasks, like just getting him to put his shoes on, can sometimes take hours. Dont expect to be on time for anything ever again. Watching him manipulate people into "babying" him is just annoying. Especially when hes very capable of doing it himself. He cant get one past me and it drives him crazy. It drives us both totally insane. Lets not even discuss how he ALWAYS had to be the red Power Ranger

Of course the advantages completely outweigh every struggle he brings. Like skipping all the lines at Disney World, WHO WOULDN'T LOVE THAT?! All kidding aside, I am a better person every time he surprises us with memories that we have forgotten. I am a better person when we recite and sing every word of Grease together. Hearing his voice 1,000 miles away will never be enough, I can't stand living so far away. I am better for knowing him. I am honored to call him my brother. 

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