Saying Goodbye To My Little Brother With Down Syndrome

Saying Goodbye To My Little Brother With Down Syndrome

Best Friend, Confidant, Brother
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Yes, I’ll miss my parents. Yes, I’ll miss my friends. Yes, I’ll even miss my older brother. This is all true, but the most soul crushing thing about moving 1,300 miles from home is the idea that I won’t get to see my little brother every day.

My little brother, Aaron, is the light of my life, and he is unique in many ways. One of the things that makes him stand out in a crowd is his Down Syndrome.

For those of you who don’t know, Down Syndrome is a third copy of the 21st chromosome which leads to distinctive physical features and developmental delays.

Aaron is 16 years old, and he has been one of my best friends almost my whole life. Although he can annoy me to the ends of the earth, he is one of the most genuinely kind-hearted people I know. He brings me water when I’m working at home, wishes me “sweet dreams” every night, plays daily board games with me, and reminds me, more than anyone, that he loves me.

That’s what really sucks about all of it. I may not always like the little grump, but I do always love him. He is the one person, the only person, who doesn’t judge me when I make a mistake, explode for no reason, or burst into random bouts of tears. He has kept me going through so much, and, now, I have to manage to say goodbye.

I’m the middle child, and I watched my older brother go off to college four years ago. Despite his being only two hours away and visiting at least once a month, Aaron was heartbroken. I watched him cry the first few times and slowly adjust to the new family dynamic, but, in my case, it’s going to be worlds different. I’ll be home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and, if I’m lucky, fall break. I have no clue how I’m going to explain to him that I won’t be home to see his school events, his basketball games, his bowling skills, and more. I may be back for the summers, but it just won’t be the same anymore. Anytime I’m home, the only thing I’ll be doing is counting down the days until I leave him again.

Over the years, Aaron has become so much a part of my identity that I’m not really sure what it’s going to be like not being “Aaron’s sister” anymore. I’ll be my own person, which will be great, but at the price of moving away from one of my closest friends and confidantes.

Aaron will be number one in my life for as long as we are both alive, and I have no complaints about this fact, but, come mid-August, we will never be the same. Phone calls and Facetime sessions will help, but nothing will be the same as his nightly bear hugs.

I now face the terror of leaving him to fight his own fights. For the past 16 years of my life, I’ve fought tooth and nail to make sure that he was safe and loved in any and every situation. I’ve defended him against bullying, discrimination, and more, but I won’t be able to do that anymore. Aaron is so amazing in so many ways, and I wish there was a way to just pack him up and drag him to college with me, but I know my roommates probably wouldn’t appreciate it. Aaron has shaped me, for the better, in so many ways, and I wouldn’t be half the person I am today if not for him. It will be a rough adjustment, but I know that, over time, I’ll manage to adjust to life without my favorite little grump.

Cover Image Credit: Annika Soderfelt

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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.
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Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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What It Is Really Like Having Sisters Close To Your Age

While having siblings close to your age is pretty amazing, there can be a lot of issues that can come with it.

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I come from a family of 5 people and 1 dog. I have 2 sisters, Grace and Caroline. We are all pretty close in age, Caroline being the youngest and 3 years younger than me.

My sisters and I share a bond like no one else, no one can replicate it. When you have siblings close to your age you have built-in best friends, and since they are around your age you have the same interest, or at least, enough so that you can do things that other siblings cannot. Examples of this would be seeing R-Rated movies and going to the mall without too much complaining, along with being able to shop in the same stores or even share clothes. Grace and I sometimes even split the cost of a shirt we both like.

We even overlap friend groups! Which is not much of a problem for us, Grace and I are both in music programs which overlap enough for us to have the same friends, which is great for when one of us has a sleepover, the other can join in on the fun. Caroline, however, even though she is seen as the sporty one of the 3 of us, she still has a lot of friends who have similar interests as Grace or I, giving us a lot of the same friends. It's nice not to be considered the "cool older sister", I am just like the rest of them.

While we do fight a lot, we make up really quickly, because most issues we have are stupid sibling fights: who gets the T.V., what to have for dinner, what movie to see. But it is always fun because there are 3 of us, which means majority rules, something we tend to go by most of the time depending on the situation.

Having 3 teenagers in the house can be a handful for our parents though, when you have three teenage girls going through puberty at relatively the same time, it can be grueling, especially when you are all on your period at the same time.. (yes, that has happened before) (and yes, it sucks). While I am on the topic, let's say a prayer and a thank you to my dad for dealing with 5 girls (including the dog, obviously) because he does a pretty damn good job at dealing with all of us.

When we were younger, we always had a play date even when one was canceled. We all made up songs and dances and would perform them for our parents. We even had a band called The Halsey Sisters (AKA the female version of The Jonas Brothers) where we had a hit song called "We Got The Heart and Soul". It was a hell of a time. Let's just say the music video for that song is, interesting to say the least.

At the end of the day, I wouldn't switch my sisters for anything in the world, they are my rocks, and I wouldn't want it any other way, Grace, Caroline, keep doing what you're doing, because you're pretty damn awesome.

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