Growing up, it’s easy to say that the favorite part of your day was getting a good grade on a test in school or soccer practice with friends. But more and more, it’s the quiet moments I cherish the most, especially with my brother Jacob.
Being away from home for college is especially tough because I don’t get to see my family or friends. So when I come back home, I feel it is necessary to spend as much time with them as possible. Hustling between friends and events at home is tiresome and hardly what I’d call a ‘relaxing vacation’. The exhaustion fades, however, when I’m with Jacob.
Jacob was always different than the other kids at school. His nonverbal, severe autism made it hard to connect with other students and difficult to make friends. And when he would flap his arms or make incoherent sounds, it would only make people afraid of him. In a past life, the sideward glances and hushed murmurs from strangers only made the weight of embarrassment heavy on my shoulders. As I aged, I came to realize it wasn’t fear or anger, but rather curiosity of the unknown. And this turned a negative perspective on strangers into an optimistic view. The more of this I noticed, the kinder people became, where they would hold the door open or offer to help in times of need. And Jacob’s kind smile always brought the best out in the people around him. Once in fear of going out with Jacob, now I feel sorry that more people can’t see his warmhearted smile.
For the past few times I’ve come back home, Jacob and I have shared a lot of quiet and peaceful moments together, whether that is going for a walk, swinging outside together, listening to music, or watching his favorite YouTube videos. In moments like these, fun is simplistic and rejuvenating. I miss that part of childhood: being able to find happiness where you are. Nowadays, it’s as if the world sees happiness as equated with success and drive, but Jacob has made me seen otherwise. I am grateful that my brother has taught me to see that the little things in life, like swinging or walking with a sibling, are the most simplistic, yet most important.