[FEATURED POST] Happy Birthday to My Sister Jessica: The Epitome of Unconditional Love, and Living With an Open Heart.
One of the most important people in my life is my older sister Jessica. Jessica was born with Down Syndrome and today is her 28th birthday. It’s hard to believe she is that old; she’s not even five feet tall, and still looks like a kid. She still acts like a kid actually, which is one of the wonderful things about Jessica. She is easily pleased, almost always happy, and see’s life through an endlessly positive lens.
I want to write about Jessica today not only because it is her birthday, but also because she is the epitome of someone who lives life with an open heart. Jessica, like most individuals with Down Syndrome, is able to show unconditional love and acceptance. This is something most people (I believe) struggle to accomplish. But Jessica does this without effort; it’s who she is, it’s how she lives, it’s her way of life. She is a gentle soul, with a huge heart, open to anyone and everyone. When she meets new people, she greets them with a hug (despite our continuous attempts at trying to get her to shake hands). My whole life, every time I cried, she was the first to bring me a tissue and give me a hug. Anyone who has met Jessica can attest to her kindness, and sweet demeanor, and did I mention, how hilarious she is (I’ll save that for a different post, on a different day). Don’t get me wrong, she’s still human; she can still have a temper, and does not like being bossed around. I’ve had friends ask me, “How do you fight with her when she’s so sweet?” Easy. She’s still my sister, she still gets on my nerves, I still get on her nerves, and so, we fight, -like sisters are supposed to! Granted, it’s not very often. But no matter what, she is always able to come around, often more quickly than I can, and can show me love again. She doesn’t know what it means to hold a grudge. She doesn’t understand resentment. She only knows in a particular moment how she feels. So, if we fight for instance, and she’s mad at me, when the moment passes, she’s back to her usual fun-loving self. And getting her out of bad mood is often incredibly easy. All you have to say is, “Jessica, happiness…” and she’ll look up from pouting in her hands, and smile, and be done with it. There is no more past to rehash later on. What’s important to Jessica is the present moment. It’s rather beautiful the ease at which she literally forgives and forgets.
Along with being able to show unconditional love and acceptance, Jessica is able to live authentically, without her ego getting in the way. Jessica doesn’t have to struggle with trying to impress, to please others, or live up to societies expectations. Peer pressure is not something she has experienced. The stresses of life are not something she has to feel. Instead, life is simple, exciting, an adventure, and full of happiness. I’m pretty sure some of Jessica’s happiest moments each day include watching Matt Damon and Justin Bieber on YouTube, getting the mail, going to work, and eating. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to live such a simple life, and be completely satisfied? Can you image if every time you got the mail it was an adventure? To never feel a need for more, -to be content with the present moments in life? Jessica’s instinct to live like this, really is remarkable.
This morning, I was sitting next to Jessica, and I said, “Are you excited for your birthday?!” She smiled and said, “Umm…yeah, yeah! And Linda (her boss at work) told me that my wish would come true”. I said, “She did? Well, Jessica, do you remember what you wished for?” She got quiet, a bit bashful, lowered her head (when she has something really important to say, she gets very shy, speaks in almost a whisper, and looks at the floor) and said in a soft voice,
“I wished for a beautiful day”
(Ah! How simple! How beautiful! How sweet! How innocent!) I smiled, hugged her, and replied, “Well, Miss Jessica, I’m pretty sure your wish is going to come true”.…
By the time I publish this post, we will be in Trinidad, which I’ve heard is nothing short of beautiful.
This post is dedicated to my sister. May we all be so lucky to one day see life in such a simple and beautiful way, to love unconditionally, and be most satisfied with life’s unadorned pleasures. Happy Birthday Jessica. You are amazing in so many ways. I love you.