To Christos, on your 18th birthday

Knowing you will never read this, or understand it, gives me some sort of relief. Because I know that being loved, the way that you are loved, can sometimes be a burden. It can change people, it can make you self-conscious it can mess with your life. The way I love you, the way our family loves you is fierce, it’s threatening and it’s dangerous. I fear that when it comes to you, reason is non-existent. There is no way a mind can comprehend or articulate the way you are loved.
I remember the night you were born, I remember wanting you, waiting for you, and already being a bit jealous of you. I remember you coming home, sleeping in your bed, mum bathing you in the sink. I remember lining all the pillows on the bed around you so that we could lie next to you. I remember your crooked smile, the one that was too big for your face, your huge brown eyes and your pointy ears. I remember your first steps and how I woke up grandma and grandpa to tell them. I remember your silly laugh and I remember the day you moved into our room.

I remember you ignoring me when I called your name. I remember you crying a lot. I remember our parents wondering if you were deaf, and taking you to doctors. I remember you going to England, Istanbul, having scans of your brain in the house. I remember wanting you, waiting for you.

I remember growing up with a brother who was exceptional. I remember thinking how lucky I was that I had you, that I could take part in teaching you how to speak, read, write. I remember you turning our lives upside down. I remember wondering
why everyone thought you were different; didn’t all 6 year-olds communicate with pictures? I remember you breaking everything. I remember you falling off the piano chair and needing stitches under your lip. I remember how shaky mum was and going to the hospital whenever I see your scar.

I remember the day I finally realised how much I loved you and how scared I was to lose you. We were standing outside our house in Sri Lanka, while our parents packed up our stuff because we were running from the tsunami. I remember thinking of ways to save you, to make sure you weren’t hurt. It’s funny what stupid things adrenaline can make you think of. I remember myself hugging you so tight and you struggling to let go. I remember

watching videos with mum of our holidays after, trying to forget what we had just lived through. I remember throwing basketballs at our cousins faces, and spitting in another ones face because they were young and naive and made fun of you. I remember the fury I felt because I couldn’t speak to explain myself to mum, I couldn’t contain my rage. I remember thinking I had to change things, mentalities, perceptions, I had to make this a place you could grow up in being yourself. I remember thinking i didn’t have time to go round punching everyone in the face. I remember getting my life together.

I remember leaving you for university. I remember crying and missing you. I miss you
every day I am not with you. I remind myself everyday that I have no other choice than to be the best I can be for you. When I’m done, when I want to quit, when I never want to see anyone again, I remind myself that I need to be someone you can be proud of. I remember our stupid fights and how much I annoy you when I am with you. I remember how you always forgive me for singing in the car,  how you always kiss me when I’m hurting and try to make me smile when im mad.

I think of the future, when you are an adult. I think of all the things I want to change. I think of all the people I’ve met because of you, all the people you have touched. I think of all the measures I can help put in place to help you, to help others in our community. I project into a future with you, a difficult future. A future I wouldn’t give up for the world.

I think that i should think of all these tomorrow, because today is a celebration. Today is a tribute to everything you have become. It’s a reminder that nothing is impossible, that there is not a single thing we cannot achieve if we work hard. Today you blow your candles on your own, after years of mum trying to show you how. Today you let your 30 guests hug you, kiss you, touch you, be around you after countless tantrums, attacks and years of shielding yourself from it. Today, to everyone else, you are an adult. To me, you will forever be that kid that broke all my toys.

Happy Birthday Chris.

I everything you.

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11 thoughts on “To Christos, on your 18th birthday

  1. Happy birthday Cristos! Hope you have a wonderful day and may your future bring you much love and happiness, with a sister who loves you as much as Dora does, your life is beautifully enriched.
    All my love
    Tracy Shilling (Hannah’s mum)
    Xxxx

  2. Happy birthday Christos! Cant believe you are 18 already! In my mind you will always be that sweet little boy eating a dessert at your grandma’s confectionary 🙂 Words cant express how much you are loved; not just by your incredible sister and loving parents, but by all of us who know you. Have an amazing day!

  3. Dear christos,
    As a big sister of another boy different and unique like you, i wanna wish you all the joy and happiness near people you love! I feel how important you are to them, just like Yiannis is for us! Keep it up, thankfully this world has been becoming a more acceptful place for all of us..slowly..but im glad to see that there is a feeling of change and empathy rather than criticism and staring. Still there is a long way.
    Best wishes 😉

  4. Happy birthday Christos! As a big sister to an Autistic man, my baby brother just turned 41, I know that I am the lucky one for having such a great sibling. Dora, I found myself in what you have written. Big sisters are the BEST advocates (and throwers of basketballs) 😊

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