Huntington's Disease Society of America
Growing up, I thought I had the worst brother ever, looking back I'm sure I wasn't an angel myself. I thought my brother was the bully of all bully’s. Awhile after my parents divorced I lived with my Father, and my Brother lived with my Mother. You would think this would have stopped the issues with my brother and me, but it didn’t. I always looked at other brothers relationships and was so jealous of their friendships. When I would come to visit my Mother for the weekend my relationship with my brother was worse than before. I guess it was that there was less time to get all the punches or pranks in that were necessary.
On weekends when I visited my Mother, Brother, and I started going to church. One morning at church, after I felt very hopeless in my relationship with my brother, I grabbed some donuts after Sunday school, best part of church for me at that time. I looked over and saw a taller boy, and he was giving other kids piggy back rides and all the other kids my age were following him around. This would be the first time I remember praying; I prayed “Please God give me a brother like that.”
A few weeks later I remember getting a call at my Dad’s house, it was my Mom. She told me “Hi Justin, I wanted to tell you that I’m getting married.” I was excited, Two Sets of Christmas presents! I remember the following weekend I was supposed to be my Mothers weekend with me. My Father dropped me off at a house I didn’t recognize. I was looking for my brother who I’m sure was ready for me. When I walked up to the house I remember meeting my new step Dad Reed for the first time, I then met my Beautiful step sisters Charity, and Veronica! I was so excited! My Mom and Reed walked me to the back room which would eventfully be my room. As I was turning the corner my Mother said, now this is your new brother Justin and his name is Ryan. It was the boy I had prayed to God for, I couldn’t believe it! The best part was Ryan was as excited as I was!
The following years of my life were like a dream to me. I had so much fun with Ryan! We built forts together, and he taught so much. We dug holes in the back yard like we were going to hit China. I remember playing hide and seek all day and through the night. He was the best story teller you could ever know. When my other brother would pick on me, Ryan was there as my protector. We were a team!
I remember asking Ryan “Where is your Mom?”, he told me she had died from a disease called Huntington’s and that there was a 50% chance that he has it. I was still young at the time and didn’t really understand what that meant. One day I was hanging out with Ryan and my sister Charity, I remember them talking about their mother and seeing the decline in their mother’s health due to the disease. They talked about the 50% chance. Ryan said “If anyone has it, I hope it’s me.” Ryan was like that, even though he knew the suffering of the disease he would want to take that pain for himself instead of have it happen to anyone else.
As we grew older, we started to see signs from Ryan of the disease. It slowly takes away your motor functions and eventually confines you to a wheelchair and ultimately takes your life. He eventually was placed in a home which could take care of him on a 24 hour basis. My relationship with my brother who I thought was a bully eventually became amazing and he is one of my best friends now, and I look at my brother Ryan as an Angel sent from heaven at a time of need. Ryan has passed away but not before helping me realize how blessed we all are for our health, family, friends, and that prayers are answered. I love all my brothers and sisters, and I love you my brother Ryan, you changed my life forever! I’ll see you later.