Lots of Love this Week

Hey Friends, 

Happy Valentine’s Week – even if you think it’s full of mush and obligatory sweetheart gifting – I LOVE, love, so I support the expression of it in any form. And speaking of expressions of love, can we talk about this photo?

This is my brother, Tyler. He’s 35 and has developmental delays. He’s perfection in all-things being human. And this past weekend, he was celebrated at Night to Shine in Des Moines, Iowa. Night to Shine is a non-profit funded by Tim Tebow to provide a prom experience for teens and young adults with disabilities. 

Tyler was born in 1991, just as I was turning 16. Tyler was a surprise for my single mom, me, and my sister, but we welcomed him into the world with joy and anticipation. He had a shock of red hair and the sweetest, round face. At two months old, the doctor discovered he need heart surgery and he spent his first Christmas in the hospital. By his toddler years, it was clear that he had global developmental delays, both cognitively and physically. At 35, he lives full-time with my mom. 

When I say Tyler is perfection in all-things being human, it’s not hyperbole. He emulates kindness and love. He’s curious, kind-hearted, easily moved by emotions, and unconditional in his love for others. He is rarely angry and never holds onto grudges. He forgives easily, cuddles fiercely, and has a great sense of humor. He loves his cat, his family, police officers and paramedics, and a good queso dip. And, his life is limited. Tyler will never drive a car, never live independently, and will never have a family of his own. So, to see him celebrated, cherished, and experiencing a ritual so many of us take for granted brought me to tears. 

Having a family member with a disability brings with it waves of grief and loss. So many people tell family members what their loved one will never do. But look at this – he was king for a night, proudly donning a suit and tie. He was surrounded by princesses, fellow friends with disabilities, and a host of loving adults.  

Thank you to everyone who made this moment happen for him. Thank you, caregivers, who do the care-taking. Thank you to every person who truly sees people with disabilities as human and loves their humanity. Thank you to every soul who celebrates my brother for who he is, not who he is not. I would be proud if I could be half the compassionate human he is every day. 

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