3 Life Lessons My Cousin With Down Syndrome Taught Me

3 Life Lessons My Cousin With Down Syndrome Taught Me

Thank you for teaching me lessons that I can't learn from a textbook

Anna Evenosky

I remember the day I met you. You were a baby and my five-year-old self was intrigued by how small the palms of your hands were and how your eyes wandered aimlessly from one of us to another. I always wondered what was going on in your head. I know for sure your baby self wasn't thinking about the tremendous impact you would have on your cousin Anna's life, or your "friends" life, as you would say. In fact, my five-year-old self had no clue how much you would teach me. You would influence my views on life and teach me of a love so strong that I didn't know existed.

It doesn't take much at all for you to put a smile on my face. In fact, seeing you stand in the doorway as you arrive at family parties all dressed up—of course only to perfection— is enough to make me feel an overwhelming sense of happiness. You always do the best out of everyone at making your rounds, saying hello, and, of course, hugs and kisses! I hope you know that these small acts don't go unnoticed. You truly put yourself out there, while being so polite as you make each and every one of us feel special and important. You have your inside jokes with all of us and your curiosity leads to some of the best relationships. It amazes me to see the special connection you have with each of us and it makes me hope I can have just as large of an impact on everyone I meet as you do. Thank you for teaching me to put myself out there and to strive to have a good relationship with everyone I cross paths with.

I rarely see Matthew without a smile on his face. Of course, there is the occasional "I'm over tired and you're putting vanilla ice cream (his favorite) in front of me" meltdown, which would happen with any young kid. Although, what amazes me is how quickly Matthew manages to get himself together, put that smile back on his face, and be a trooper. Whatever the scenario may be, anything from an ice cream meltdown to him finding out his big cousins who are off at college won't be at the family party, he manages to accept the bad, move on, and be happy. It is inspiring, to say the least, and now when I have my own dumb little meltdowns or get upset for whatever reason it may be, I remember what Matthew would do. Accept the bad, move on, and be happy.

I can recall a day when we were together with our families. I wasn't feeling myself but shrugged it off and tried to make the best out of the family time I had. It wasn't unusual for me to feel this way considering I occasionally get into 'funks' due to my depression. I went about that night trying to distract myself as to how I was feeling, I laughed, I smiled, but I wasn't able to shake it off all together. I felt alone and nobody noticed anything was wrong. Matthew and I shared a chair in the family room as the rest of our family sat around the dinner table exchanging stories. Out of nowhere, Matthew looked me in the eye and the words "What's wrong?" came out of his mouth. It left me speechless, he knew something wasn't right and he expressed his concern to me when I did everything possible to hide it. Right then and there I realized nothing was wrong. I may be in a funk but I was surrounded by the ones I love the most. That night, Matthew gave me an extra hard squeeze when he hugged me goodbye. Matthew taught me to love unconditionally and to always keep my eye open for when a loved one may need me most.

Thank you for teaching me lessons that I can't learn from a textbook. Some people may never learn these lessons but I feel fortunate that God has brought you into my world, blessing me with a situation that has allowed me learn and grow. Whether it is a laugh I need, somebody to get my mind off of life's stressors, a shoulder to cry on, or whatever else, you are there. Your unconditional love and bubbly personality goes a long way and you have impacted my life more than I could have ever imagined

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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