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Sebastian’s Article: The Truth About My Brother

Article #3 in the ESL Student Life Stories Project, by Sebastian from Colombia, age 17.

ESL student

The author in the Boston sun, far from Colombia

I didn’t understand what was going on. There were tears in my mother’s eyes and my brother looked so sad.

I was in my room, a very dark and cold room, standing between my bed and my brother’s blue crib. The only sound was coming from our giant grandfather clock: tick, tock… tick, tock…

I only was ten years old when I realized that in my country of Colombia, everyone faces different sadnesses. I was born in Bogota where l spent beautiful moments. But I will never forget the day when everything changed.

It was a chilly day, and my father was not at home. I had been playing with my newborn brother all afternoon, but I knew something strange was happening because my mother had been very quiet all day, crying silently.

As I tried to play with my brother, I noticed that he was just lying there on the sheets. His eyes were closed and there was no movement in his body. At first I was confused and did not want to ask anything. But after a while, I finally decided to ask my mother what was going on.

My mother avoided my eyes, her mouth closed. She didn’t want to tell me anything. I felt terrible because I knew that something really bad was happening to my brother.

Then all of a sudden, my mother broke the silence. She cried out, “Your brother is not like the other children! He is… special!”

Sebastian’s brother with a boat captain on vacation

I looked at my mother with her curly black hair, sitting there next to the crib in her white pajamas, rolling her rosary beads through her hands, and I felt confused. What did she mean by “special”?

My mother gazed at me, took a breath, then said: “Your brother has Cerebral Palsy!”

Then she started to cry again.

At that moment I didn’t know what to say. It was painful. The room returned to a deep silence and the sound of the clock echoed: tick… tock.

Slowly, I thought to myself: Now it all makes sense. My mother’s tears… the immobility of my brother… my father’s sadness… Finally I knew where the sadness came from.

Then I thought that everything would be very different from how it was before. Just a few moments earlier, I was so excited about having a brother: someone who I could play with and talk to! But at that moment I realized that such a life would not be possible.

My heart sank even further when my mother told me the doctor’s words: “He will never be able to walk or speak.”

We were all heartbroken then, but now, at the age of seventeen, I know that it is amazing to have a “special” brother. I also know that bad predictions don’t have to come true.

Family on a ship

Sebastian, his father, and his brother

Despite the doctor’s dire predictions, with the help of my family’s cariño or love, now my brother CAN walk, ride a bike, and even ride a horse!

Also, though he can’t speak as fluently as you or me, my brother can now communicate with us in his own way. Every day, he is improving himself.

My brother has taught me how we can face life in a different way. He never thinks he CAN’T do things others can do. He always figures out how to solve the problems that arise and never allows himself to be left behind.

Here’s an example. Last year at Christmas, my parents, brother, and I were at a shopping center in Bogota, eating dinner at Unicentro. When we finished eating, my mother left her bag on the table and my parents and I walked away, not remembering the purse. But my brother was paying attention to everything! When my mother left the table, my brother started laughing because she had left the bag. When my mother realized what she had done, she smiled and rescued her purse. My brother was a hero on that day… and on many other days, too!

My brother has faced the handicaps from his illness by improving his other skills, like memory. He is always looking for a way forward instead of worrying about what holds him back. This is what makes him “special,” and this is what makes him an inspiration to me.

Every day when l wake up, I feel happy because l learn new things with my brother. Would you not feel the same?

Lillie’s Note: Please, please leave a comment for Sebastian on his moving article, stating your geographical location!

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