At 5 years old I had to step up to become a supportive listener, strong protector, and never failing bond that kept my family together. I was gifted the ability to mature much quicker than the other kindergartners. To some extent I’m grateful for that gift, but in some ways it has felt like a burden. My brother was born with a miriad of special needs, all of them required extensive visits to the ER, CHOP, and more specialists than I can count. We had to move so we could live within a couple minutes of a good hospital just in case.

The past 18 years I have been his body guard as well as his punching bag. There is no one on the planet who can frustrate me as much as he does. But I’m proud of him and I have an unconditional love for him that I haven’t seen in many sibling relationships. Because there aren’t too many siblings who have been through the hell we have been through.

He was told he would never play sports, drive, or have a normal life. In the past four years I have watched him play golf and volleyball. And not only is he able to drive, he’s a genius car expert. Volleyball was a hard sell to his doctors but my parents refused to let my brother live in a bubble for the rest of his life.

He graduated high school and went to UTI to become a car technician. He worked at a reputable shop completely rebuilding cars that went through fires. And three days ago he moved to Massachusetts to pursue a higher education with Mercedes.

I’m beyond proud of him. He pretty much told every doctor who ever saw him to suck it. Because he not only succeeded at life, he exceeded every single expectation of him tenfold. He’s a success. And he is living a life worth living.

So after 18 years and 11 months of being his big sister, his body guard, his number one fan…where does that leave me?

Well for starters…I’ve been crying. A lot. A whole lot. I’m trying to keep myself busy so I don’t think about it. But it’s really rough. This giant part of my life is suddenly gone living his own life. This may seem silly but I feel lost. My identity has been Zack’s big sister.

How quickly these years have flown by. How greatly I took them for granted.

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