My Brother, Where Is Your Soul Now?

My Brother, Where Is Your Soul Now?

Two lives affected by Multiple Sclerosis.
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To My Brother:

I love you so much.

A great deal of my identity is wrapped up in you.

Whenever I see you suffering from your Multiple Sclerosis, I die a little more inside. I cry for you often. I cry because I miss who you were. I cry because who you are now is no one. It's unfair that at 31 years old, you are completely debilitated from Multiple Sclerosis.

When we were growing up, no one said my name without yours immediately following it. We go together like peanut butter and jelly.

You were there when Jermaine and his friends assaulted me in the basement.

You were there when The Upstairs Man assaulted me in the basement.

We had endless adventures in the house and on the street of Hamlen.

We both became moody teenagers who took each other for granted.

Then as we became adults, we found our way to each other again. We're like twins.

Which is why your Multiple Sclerosis is paralyzing me too.

Know that when your hurting, I am too. When your body abandons the signals coming from your brain, mine does too. When you cry, I do too. When you want to just give up and die, I do too. When you're struggling and trying to get at least a crumb of salvation, I am too. We are one.

I wish you hadn't lost everything you had. I wish you would have had children so I could spoil them rotten and always tell them about how energetic and how special you are. I wish that you could walk again. I wish Multiple Sclerosis had never happened to you.

I miss the day-long phone calls we used to have. I miss the games we played as kids. I miss your conspiracy theories. I miss opening Christmas presents with you every year. I miss your laughter. I miss how we played as children — growing up in a world that didn't have cell phones, internet, or even a television set. I miss seeing you be independent.

What lays in the nursing home bed day after day is not my brother. You've become an empty shell. Where is your soul now? Why have you been forsaken? Why do I wish I could have Multiple Sclerosis too just so I can be near you always?

Because I don't understand your disease. I don't understand why it had to take your joy from your life. I don't understand the bigger picture your Multiple Sclerosis plays in our lives. I don't want to be in a world that your not in. Why did this have to happen to you?

I'm sorry for all the times your moody teenage angst made me resent you. I'm sorry I can't take care of you. I'm sorry I picked on you as a kid. I'm sorry we didn't share more interests. I'm sorry your life was taken from you. I'm sorry for not being a better sister.

I miss you.

I love you so much.

- Kim

Cover Image Credit: Kimberly Steele

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An Open Letter To My Unexpected Best Friend

You came out of nowhere and changed my life for the better.
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“It's so amazing when someone comes to your life and you expect nothing out of it, but suddenly, there right in front of you is everything you ever need."

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Dear Unexpected Best Friend,

You were the person I never thought I would speak to and now you are my very best friend. You came out of nowhere and changed my life for the better. I can't thank you enough for everything you have done to shape me into the person I am today. You've taught me what it means to be selfless, caring, patient, and, more importantly, adventurous.

You don't realize how much better my life has become and all because you came out of nowhere. I didn't see you coming. I just saw you on occasion, and now I can't see my life without you in it. It's funny how life works itself out like that. Our unexpected friendship filled a hole in my life that I didn't know existed.

I don't even remember what life was like before you came along; it most likely had a lot less laughter and spontaneity than it does today. I can call you about anything and you would drop whatever you're doing to help me in any situation. You know when I need encouragement. You know when I am at my best and when I am at my worst. You always know exactly what to say.

SEE ALSO: 8 Tiny Lies Every Young Woman Has Told Their Best Friend

I couldn't have found a better friend than you if I tried. We balance each other out in the best way possible. You are most definitely the yin to my yang, and I don't care how cliché that sounds. Because of you, I've learned to stop caring what people think and to do my own thing regardless of any backlash I might receive. You are my very favorite part of what makes me who I am to this day.

It's as if I wished up a best friend, and poof — you appeared right in front of me. I am so beyond blessed to have you and I wouldn't trade the world for all our memories. Thanks for coming out of nowhere.

Love you forever and a day.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Medders

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The Universe Knew I Needed A Little Brother To Make Me Who I Was Meant To Be

Who knew my biggest annoyance would also be my biggest teacher?

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Everyone has a love/hate relationship with their siblings. And if you say that you don't, you're either crazy or you're lying. Growing up, sometimes I asked myself, "Why aren't I an only child?"

My littlest brother has been bugging me since I was 4. He was born, and at the time I'm sure I thought it was the greatest thing to ever happen to me. Then he started talking. And walking. And figuring out how to push my buttons in ways that no human being ever could. (Don't worry little bro, I'll say nicer things about you later, just keep reading.)

My brother and I fought more than any pair of siblings I'd ever met in my childhood. My friends had little brothers but none of them ever seemed as fed up with theirs as I was with mine. There were times when he didn't even have to speak and I'd be furious with him. Everything set us off. As kids, we used to fight each other (physically), even though I was probably triple his weight. I remember a time when he knocked out one of my teeth, and in return, I hit him so hard he had bruises.

Do we sound certifiably insane yet? No? Just wait, it gets better.

We continued this kind of fighting until I was well into my teens. By that time he was growing, and soon he and I were an even match in terms of strength and height. This made our "wrestling" as my mom liked to call it, all the more crazy.

Once it got so heated during a car ride that we both started yelling ways we would kill the other if we had the chance. (This is the part that makes us really sound crazy.) We went back and forth for what felt like an eternity, but the funny part is that by the time we reached our destination, we were laughing so hard we had tears. We were complimenting the other's creativity and trying so hard to outdo each other coming up with the funniest ways to die.

The point of this is not to make everyone think that all we ever did was scream at each other. He's one of my favorite people on Earth, and a lot of my best childhood memories took place with him next to me.

What really helped was when I went off to college. It caught me by surprise how much I missed him. I checked in with him more than I expected, which probably annoyed him, and I found that I missed being in his company. I even missed our fights.

Now that I'm entering adulthood and he's living out his long-awaited teenage years, our fighting is less frequent and less intense.

I reflect back on my childhood growing up with my little brother, and I realized that if I hadn't had him by my side, I wouldn't be the person I am today and I'd lack a lot of the qualities that I love about myself. Part of the reason I'm tough and independent is that I had to be, growing up with him. Fighting with him taught me that I had to be able to hold my own in the world. He taught me the importance of family.

I'm extremely protective of the people I love, because of him. Growing up my little brother relied on me for a lot, whether he liked it or not. Watching out for him was an inherent part of who I was, it still is. But he also taught me that it's okay to lean on other people because I relied on him a lot too.

The older I got, the more I found myself defending him, trying to help others understand why he did some of the things he did. Maybe it's a sibling thing, or maybe it's all the years we spent harassing each other, but I've always been able to know what he means when he can't quite find the words.

I'm a good arguer. I know how to be patient. I'm good at resolving issues between myself and other people. Because those are all skills I had to develop to survive life growing up with him.

I wouldn't change my relationship with my little brother for anything in the world.

He's one of the best people I know. He is someone who may annoy me to no end but also inspires me every single day. The list of things I admire about him is just as long, if not longer, than the list of ways he annoys me. He thinks in ways no one else does, and he's a constant source of entertainment. He has street smarts I wish I had, and a perspective on life that few others can see. He's funny, creative, stubborn, and everything I'd ever want in a sibling.

I used to wonder why I had a little brother. Why I wasn't able to have the only-child life I thought I wanted. I know now, that the universe knew what it was doing all along. The universe knew I would need a constant pain-in-the-butt, in the form of a blue-eyed, blonde-haired psycho, to push me to be who I was meant to me. To show me all the things I needed to be to have the life I was meant to have. The universe brought my brother and me together in the same life, in the same family, because without him I'd be a very, very different human being.

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