Family is everything to me.
I was only about three years old when my Mom was pregnant with my little brother. I wasn’t one of those stereotypical “my-parents-aren’t-going-to-love-me-anymore-because-they’re-having-a-baby” kids. Actually, I was super excited to have a brother. I remember skipping around my preschool telling all my friends and classmates what an awesome sister I was going to be. All my relatives and family friends would tell me that they knew I was going to be a great big sister too. But then something drastic happened.
On Thanksgiving Day, November 22nd, 2001 at 5:19am, Michael John Borack was welcomed into the world.
I remember being shipped off to my grandparents’ house across town. I had no idea what was going on. My Grandma told me what was happening, but it was hard for me to understand at the time, being so young. Michael was born seven-and-a-half weeks prematurely, weighing seven pounds, four ounces and being nineteen inches long. He was unusually big for a premature baby. Since he was born almost two months early, he couldn’t breathe on his own and his heartbeat wouldn’t regulate by itself. The doctors and nurses rushed Michael across the street from St. Joseph’s Hospital to the CHOC Newborn Intensive Care Unit. They put him in what looked to me like an incubator, connecting tubes to his little button nose and mouth, and shoving IVs and needles into his minuscule hands and feet. The doctors diagnosed him with Aortic Stenosis; a condition in which his aorta valve is smaller than most, making it hard for blood to flow in and out of his heart.
My parents went home that day without their baby in their arms.
He stayed in that incubator for what seemed like forever to me. My parents would tell me that he was getting better each and every day. Michael was still in the N.I.C.U., the place where they keep premature babies in order to watch them and make sure they are getting all the care they need before they can be sent home. My mom told me that it was hard to see her baby boy in there, amongst other little babies who might not live to see outside the hospital walls. I constantly would ask my parents when I could meet my new brother; they wouldn’t give me a straight answer. I just wanted to show everyone that I was going to be the best big sister ever.
I finally got my chance. By then it was December. I remember visiting Michael with my grandparents. We all wore those hospital masks over our mouths in order not to spread our germs to any of the babies in the N.I.C.U. The hospital walls were dressed in festive holiday decorations. I wore a Christmas outfit, along with a Disney red-velvet Santa hat, in order to match with my brother. That is the moment when I held my little brother for the first time. I was so excited to see him and all I wanted to do was hug him.
Michael is now almost thirteen-years-old. He still has his heart condition, but he doesn’t let that get in his way. He’s a real fighter; though he is restricted by his condition, he still is a normal kid. We both compete on our local swim team and Michael does an outstanding job, winning first and second place in his races in his age division. Michael also always knows how to make me laugh and smile; whether it be his corny jokes that only I laugh at, or playing Call Of Duty with him and watching him virtually kill me over and over again. Sure, we may argue sometimes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love him to death. Yes, we get on each other’s nerves, but I’ll never love him any less than I always have. He’s my brother, and family never stops loving each other. I don’t know if I always fulfill my duties as the “greatest big sister ever,” but I sure do try. Michael is such an amazing kid. I couldn’t imagine my life without him.