Michael: The Second Draft

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“K and M in Shadow” Photo by John Borack

It had been a grueling day at school. A difficult test on graphing absolute values, a group project with uncooperative classmates, and finally a tough swim practice of 2,000 yards, half of which were sprints. I thought my day couldn’t get any more challenging. I am both mentally and physically exhausted.

I eventually calm down  when I reach the comfort of my own home. As I walk through the front door, I am instantly serenaded by the blaring of some indie pop-rock group my Dad must be reviewing. The house is filled with the aroma of meatloaf, my little brother’s favorite dish. My Mom and Dad greet me in the kitchen, asking how my day was. I simply reply, “fine,” and rush to my room to start my homework.

While walking to my room, I pass by my twelve-year-old brother’s room. Michael’s blinds are open, letting the sunlight shine through, something he has started regularly doing. He’s busy pushing buttons and moving the joystick on his video game controller which is connected to Minecraft on his Xbox. As I walk past him, he mumbles, “Hi Kayla, do you want to build a mansion with me?” while keeping his eyes glued to the screen. Michael always tries to get me to play his virtual building games with him, but I usually turn him down, saying I’m too busy to play with him..

I get my Spanish worksheet finished and complete my rough draft for my English essay. My Mom calls for Michael, my Dad, and I to make our way to the kitchen for supper. We all sit in our usual seats, myself between my Mom and Michael, with my Dad across from me. We start to eat, and Michael complains to my Mom that he doesn’t feel well, which causes her to fetch the thermometer and take his temperature. “It’s 101 degrees,” she says. “Looks like no school for you tomorrow, buddy.”

Three days pass and Michael is still out of school. My Mom drags him to the doctor, despite his pleas. “The doctor said it’s a sinus infection,” she tells me later the same day.

The weekend comes, and then days turn to weeks. “He’s been out of school for three weeks?” I ask my Dad. “Just about three,” he replies. “The doctor said it has turned into bronchitis, but it could be pneumonia. They’re going to run some tests on him. If he doesn’t get any better in the next few days, then he’ll probably have to be admitted to the hospital.”

Michael shrieks when he hears the word ‘hospital.’ He screams at the mere thought of it: the doctors taking his blood, and shoving needles and IV’s into his arms. “Pray for him,” is what my parents tell me.

That’s exactly what they told me after Michael was born.

He was born seven-and-a-half weeks early. He was unusually big for a premature baby, weighing seven pounds, four ounces and being nineteen inches long. Since he was born almost two months earlier than planned, he couldn’t breathe on his own and his heartbeat wouldn’t regulate by itself. He was later diagnosed with Aortic Stenosis; part of his heart was smaller than it should be, making it hard for him to breathe and for his heart to function properly.

Nearly 13 years later, it was time to pray for my brother again. I cry while hearing my little brother weep, and seeing tears roll down his cheeks, his eyes puffy and red. I do what my parents tell me and pray for him every night, kneeling beside my bed before I fall asleep.

           My prayers must have worked.

A few days later, my parents call me during my lunch break at school. It turns out that Michael luckily didn’t have pneumonia and didn’t have to be admitted to the hospital. They tell me he will be better soon.

I take a moment after hanging up the phone to think how terrible my life would be without Michael, and how blessed I am to have him as my brother. If he weren’t here, there wouldn’t be anyone around to tell me corny jokes that only us two laugh at. I wouldn’t have anyone to argue with about things that don’t even matter. I wouldn’t have anyone to build mansions with on Minecraft when I’m not too busy.

          I couldn’t imagine my life without him.

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