Every day, I love you.

“No one has the right to judge us because no one really knows what we have been through. They may have heard about our stories, but they never did once feel what we felt in our hearts.” I have always enjoyed reading quotes ever since I was a young girl. I love to find quotes that relate to my life and emit such power. This quote I mentioned speaks volumes into my twenty-six years of life.

Growing up with an autistic brother has been and continues to be one eventful journey. I would be lying if I told you it has always been easy. Sure, FB posts and Instagram photos always show the happy times and milestones accomplished; but I can assure you there have been many difficult moments and mountains that have not been reached.

I had just turned eight-years-old when my brother Brian was born on a chilly October morning back in 1998. I was so excited to meet the new baby mom was going into the hospital to have. The moment I held my new baby brother in my arms, my heart completely melted. I was in awe of this little baby boy and began to envision a life of growing up with a sister and a brother.

When Brian was three-years-old he was diagnosed with Autism. I was about 12 at this time and still didn’t fully understand what Autism was, but I knew there was something unique about my brother. He didn’t speak until he was three and was delayed in many areas. Brian had many different therapists and even went for hippo therapy! Brian was at every sporting event I ever participated in and would sometimes run out on the fields in the middle of a game. He had no concept of what was going on, he just wanted to wander and sometimes go find his sister.

My friends adored my brother whenever they came over for play dates and would always accept him just as he was. It was difficult to understand at such a young age that my brother was delayed cognitively and probably wouldn’t be able to do certain things that most kids his age would do as they grew up. But I have to tell you watching him grow into the young man he is has been such a blessing!

Brian has completed 8 years of elementary/middle school, 4 years of high school and he is now attending a new school for the next 3 years! He is a young man with a heart of gold. Even though he looks 18 (soon to be 19), he functions cognitively at a fourth grade level. He loves to go places and see new things! Anything that has to do with nature and the outdoors Brian is all over. He is my adventure seeking buddy!

Brian is one of my favorite people to be around. He is such a kid at heart and will always keep you feeling young. His repetition of movie talk can drive you completely bonkers, but his love of music keeps us grooving and laughing for days! My heart is completely overwhelmed with joy when people talk about his accomplishments and how proud they are of him. Every time I get teary-eyed Brian looks at me and says, “Danielle, what’s wrong?” I always put my arm around him and tell him, “These are not sad tears Bri, these are happy tears!” I know he doesn’t completely understand what I am saying, but I pray he knows how much I deeply care for him.

Brian is my best friend, an inspiration to me and someone I can always depend on. He is a light in my life, a joy to be around and a ray of sunshine I always want shining on me. I am thankful for the eighteen, almost nineteen years I have been blessed to walk through life with him. He may have his setbacks due to autism, but he has purpose and strives to achieve the goals set out for him! I love you Brian for all that you are and everything you continue to become! I thank God for creating you just the way you are.

Much love, xoxo

Danielle

“When you love and laugh abundantly, you live a beautiful life.”

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