I started driving my brother to school when he was in fifth grade. Prior to that he and I did not share with each other like siblings should. We were not very open with one another and a big part of that was because he is autistic.
My brother Daniel did not know how to express himself and did not know what he was feeling most of the time. Consequently, I did not open up to him that often and during some of our first car rides to school together we barely had anything to say to each other.
As time went on, and I assumed that responsibility of taking care of him every day, something shifted. We started to sing and laugh together in the car. He and I had alone time together that we had never had before. We were silly together and that silliness created a deeper bond between us.
Soon we were talking to each other more about our lives and I was finally beginning to understand some of his emotions and obstacles that he faced every day. It wasn't that I didn't already understand what Daniel struggled with day to day, but that time with him helped me see it with new eyes.
I was able to put myself in his shoes and try to help him in any way that I could. I protected my brother from that point and it made me feel special that he confided in me. I became the person that he trusted more than anyone else and that title felt so important to me.
Daniel is now in seventh grade and I had the opportunity to drive him to school for a week before I left for EMU. It was bittersweet because car rides are our favorite thing to do together and we both knew that the week would be over before we knew it. We sang our favorite songs together and talked about his first few days at school. My brother and I have bonded so much over something as simple as riding together in a car.
I found the sibling relationship that I never knew I could have. I cherish my brother and all the memories that we have together because of our special car rides. I know that it will be a rough transition for both Daniel and me over the next few months because we won't be able to have that bonding time together, but we have been blessed with technology that will allow him to call me and tell me about his day.
He needs me and I will still be there for Daniel no matter what. After all, I am only a car ride away from him.