It’s May and I get to cry about my little brother turning 20.
I was in Cyprus 2 weeks ago and everywhere I went people talked about how good he is, how handsome, how they miss him and how much they love him. You might think that me writing this is what makes the difference but it’s not. It’s all of my family and how they raised him, how they treat him, how they flaunt him and how much they love him. He has become someone people want to know, and want to know more about.
I took over his room while I was visiting. He didn’t barge into his room to wake me up before 8am even though I could hear him being awake from 7am. He didn’t tell me to fold my clothes, or pick up stuff off the floor of his room, even though the rest of the house had to be spotless. When I couldn’t find the honey – he showed me where it was. When I wanted to drink one of his juices he kissed me and gently took the juice away. When I wanted to watch something, he let me even though it was his time to watch cartoons. When I wanted to watch a DVD he set a time for me and him to watch it together, even though he has this thing about not watching DVDs unless the stars align. He let me bite off bits of his food even though Christos doesn’t share food. He let me pinch his cheeks and chin repeatedly despite his sensory overload. When we said goodbye at the airport he hugged me for one second longer, because he knew I would ask for it anyway. He knows I’m a guest and he lets me be one. He has allowed me to float in and out of his life for 10 years.
I asked mum if she thought he knew I was his sister or whether he thought I was some girl who showed up 10 days a year to annoy him. She said I was crazy.
But I have lived in a different country for half his life. Yes, there are many things I can say to myself to make it sound ok but right now I am just a girl in a foreign land waiting for him to have another birthday – from which I’ll be absent.
So, I write a blog post instead of a card, I ask mum for pictures instead of skyping and I try even harder to be better. I think of the years I was there and how I was a part of his smiles, his laughter, his crying, his bedtime rituals, his repetitiveness, his speech therapy, his tantrums, his education, his homework, his first steps, his first words, his transition, his moves, his development. And I want, with all of my being, for that to be enough and for him to know that I am his sister.
20 is the theme of May but I don’t know why and I don’t know how I’m gonna pull it off. Let’s figure it out together.
In other, less gloomy, news it was an eventful Autism Awareness Month this year. Here are some interesting reads in case you missed them:
- More than 120 homeopaths trying to ‘cure’ autism in UK
- Autism prevalence increases: 1 in 59 US children
- France’s ‘scandalous’ approach to autism to be totally overhauled, government promises
- Sesame Street theme park receives world’s first autism certification
- Hans Asperger ‘collaborated with Nazis’ in WWII
- Campaign in Thailand Draws Attention to World Autism Awareness Day
- Adventist leaders in Bangladesh host first autism awareness event
- Mr and Mrs Autism Kenya crowned
- Tanzania: Giving Autistic Children a New Lease of Life
- and my article on Sibling Day: The Others