Brotherly love: Illness makes sophomore cherish time left

Story by Brianna Sellers

There are three things that nobody ever wants to hear. One: “We need to break up.” Two: “You can’t do it.” Three: “We need to talk.” The talks I’m used to are usually about me getting in trouble or something about grades. I had no idea that this “talk” was far more serious.

As I made my way upstairs to face my parents, I thought to myself, “What did I do this time?” My mom and dad called me and my brother into their bedroom as soon as I got home from church. I was certain that I was about to get chewed out for something I did or didn’t do. When I walked inside, my mom’s face was crimson red. Cheeks stained with tears. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t want to know what.

My parents went to Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas, with my 5-year-old brother Bryce on Sept. 22. We had known that something was wrong with him; he had never been able to run, jump or climb–things that kids his age should be doing. My family had been to numerous doctor appointments and therapies in the past, but nothing seemed to work or help. Everything kept getting worse. We thought that maybe he was just a late bloomer and that he would develop those things later. The more we tried not to worry, we ended up worrying more.

We sat in silence for a few minutes. Neither of my parents wanted to speak first. Finally the words came out of my mom’s mouth. My baby brother had been diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. My dad is always the tough one out of my family. The look on his face was miserable–heartbreaking. He tried to hold it all back, but nothing stopped those tears. Not once, had I ever seen this look on his face. I had never seen him completely breakdown.

The strange part was that I wasn’t able to cry. I felt like I needed to, though. It just, hadn’t exactly “hit” me yet. I wasn’t sure what Muscular Dystrophy was, but I definitely knew it was something extreme.

Muscular Dystrophy is not something that someone can catch. It is not something that can be cured. There is no way to stop it. It is a
weakness in the bones and a loss of muscular tissue that worsens over time. There are nine different types of the disease. My brother has Duchenne, the most severe kind. Doctors predict that he will not live past his mid-teens, but it could be less than that, depending on how much worse it gets. On the rate it’s going now, it doesn’t look too good. He’s already having trouble walking, which will soon result in leg braces, and eventually a wheelchair.

Bryce has never been a “typical kid,” but he might be one of the brightest ones his age. He was able to read, write and draw before most of the kids in his class, and he always wants to learn new things. He gets frustrated easily, though. He knows that he can’t do things that other kids can do. He tries so hard to do those simple things, and every time he fails, he gets more discouraged, a reason why he keeps himself secluded from most kids. Even though to most people he is different, he is normal in my eyes. He has his difficulties just like everyone else in the world. He has two eyes, two feet, and a heart of gold. He will brighten up any one’s day and is full of love. Maybe he does things a little differently; everyone does. It’s what makes him unique.

It absolutely breaks my heart to know I don’t have much longer with him. It may seem like a long way away, but in reality, it’s close enough to touch. I’ve realized that time is precious and you have to spend it as wisely as possible. It’s overwhelming because everything is happening at once and makes me want to cry all the time. I know I’m supposed to stay strong and lift him up, but at times, it’s hard. I always ask myself, “What did my family do to deserve this? Why is this happening now?” After everything my family has been through, I don’t understand why problems keep piling up. It seems like there is always, something. Though, I have to remember that this is just as painful for him as it is for me.
From now on, there are going to be more and more talks. Most of them are going to be those “talks” I won’t want to hear, but I have to realize that they’re part of life. Bad things happen to good people, and you have to learn to face those bad things, head-on. I have to trust there is a reason for all of this and keep loving him. No matter what, Bryce will leave an imprint on my life–forever.