Children with autism are colorful — they are like the rainbow, they stand out. I couldn't think of a better way to describe my cousin Olivia.
Growing up, most children take their childhood for granted. Having grown up so close to my mom's side of the family, I learned to never take anything for granted. My cousin Olivia is autistic, however, that doesn't limit her from living her life to the fullest. The smile on her face and her laughter are enough to put anyone in the best of moods.
Because Livvy lacks a filter, she often says the things we are all thinking in our heads, but instead out loud to that particular person themselves. Most people would become mortified, but the expression on her face after she knows she has done something she wasn't supposed to do makes it hard to get the slightest bit mad at her.
Going away to college has been extremely difficult because I am not driving her to school every day and am not the first one to hear how her day was in the afternoons. Olivia is my favorite person in the world, not to mention my best friend.
She has not only taught me so much about myself but this life we take for granted. Her world is so limited, yet her zest and energy radiate off of her sparkling personality.
In my family, we often joke that she is a human barometer. She has the best judge of moral character — you know when she likes you and you absolutely know when she cannot stand you.
Everyone knows Olivia. She isn't scared to approach you, she especially loves the policemen. It is impossible to go anywhere without her asking to stop if we can say hi to this person. A small outing could turn into 45 minutes. Often, when we are out in public, she will turn around and ask: "Do I know you?" right to the person's face.
The summer is my favorite time of the year because we spend most weekends together at the beach doing arts and crafts and dining at our favorite local restaurants.
Nothing in the world matters when I am sitting across a table from her on a Saturday night by the beach as her smile lights up the whole room.
Livvy has taught me to accept people for what they are because they are only capable of so much. However, most importantly, she has taught me to have patience.
She makes my world a brighter place and coming home from college during breaks that much more bittersweet.
I love you Livvy.