I never really thought this day would come.
I have always referred to myself as “one big ball of empathy,” because in every situation I have encountered, I whole heartedly feel others' emotions. This has been a gift I have had my whole life.
It was the last month of my senior year at Norwin High School, a small community east of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, and everyone in my school had what was called “senioritis.” Senioritis, a condition high school senior’s get when they have completely tapped out for the rest of their high school career. Mine was in full effect. It was a normal day. I was sitting in my sixth period class, right before lunch, completely zoned out, typical. My head was buried in my desk, counting the minutes until lunch. Then we heard it. Our faces went pale, and our hearts dropped to the floor; it was the school shooter alarm.
My brother is my best friend and our bond is irreplaceable. Between our parents’ divorce and the many cancers our family faced, we always seemed to fight our battles together. This year is not an average year for my brother, as he is finally entering into adulthood and turning twenty-one in just a few months. The excitement is almost too much for him to anticipate, that is before he remembers. He cannot drink any type of beer or wine cooler anymore. He remembers that he can’t even take a bite from his own birthday cake without being bent over in profuse stomach pain for hours. He remembers the doctor appointment that changed his life forever. At just nineteen years old, my brother was diagnosed with celiac disease; an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten causes normal stomach villi, the fibers that help us digest food, to break down, consequently resulting in severe damage to the small intestine (“What is Celiac Disease”). Gluten is a combination of proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. It is used to help foods maintain their shape, rise while baking, and provide a chewy texture. Its thick texture makes those with celiac disease have a more difficult time digesting it. This is the reality for 1 in 100 people worldwide with two and a half million undiagnosed in America alone (“Celiac Disease”). This was one battle my brother would have to face alone. Celiac disease causes its victims to live a life of misery with severe symptoms, an array of diagnosis and very little treatments.
I once knew a girl, so beautiful yet so broken.