My Best Friend

Caitlin - Burbank, Illinois
Entered on March 6, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

Growing up with a handicapped person in the family is a very unique experience. When I was young I took all of the happiness Mark brought to my family for granted. When my sisters and I would want some ice cream, we would stand behind Mark’s chair and deepen our voices begging for some. Who can say no to that? He is the reason I got to spend so much time with my mom since she decided to be a homemaker to tend to his needs. I can not picture my world with out my big brother – Mark is physically and mentally disabled.

Sure sometimes it has been a pain to have to stay home to take care of him. I feel horrible that my parents feel guilty when either one of my sisters or I is asked to stay home with him. I hope they know that we do not see Mark as a burden. It breaks my heart when he is sad and can not communicate to the world what is bothering him. I wish I knew what he thought, if he thought, and if he knows that he is different. I hate it when people feel sorry for him and my family, especially my grandfather. My grandpa always says “only if Mark got the chances everyone else has, life would be so much better.” I wonder how different my life would be if my brother wasn’t handicap. I love Mark though, no matter how God put him on earth.

We love Mark with all our hearts. I believe that we share the truest love there is with Mark. Taking care of him is a sacrifice that we are willing to give over and over. Many people might see it as a hardship, I don’t. He has been one of the most important and influential persons in my life. He has made our family strong and unified. Mark has taught me that love is unconditional and that life is filled with beauty. I believe I take less for granted in the world because I see what Mark lives without. I believe we are all challenged somehow in our lives. Some circumstances just are more visible than others, or we deny our hardships by pretending life is perfect. Life is not perfect, but I do not regret or dwell on my challenges. I found how I can learn and become a better person from the challenges I face. I have grown so much from the hardships present in my family and have found the good that can come from them. I have found a best friend.

Mark is the best kind of friend there is. He is the best secret keeper I could ever ask for! If I’m having a bad day, he’ll listen hours on end. He will not judge me. He will never backstab me or gossip. If I’m doing my homework, he’ll listen to me read and complain about it. When all my friends are busy, I can count on my big brother to keep me company. Mark enjoys any music I listen to, any TV show I watch, or any book I read. I believe the bond we share is a true friendship. He does not have to give anything in return. His presence and smile can turn any bad day around.