To the Girl Who Said My Brother With Disabilities Should Be Euthanized

Dear You,

It started with a question about politics. You and I had similar views, and I broached the topic of people with disabilities. “People with special needs should be euthanized.” I was taken aback. “So you’d actually euthanize my brother?” I asked. “Yes.”

I asked about famous disabled people, such as Stephen Hawking. “Smart people are fine. But vegetables, they should go.” I didn’t know what to say at first. Finally, I said calmly, “You must live a sad life.” She responded with a jab about my mental health.

Walking away, I felt a weight in my chest. I’d heard plenty of awful things about Alex. People calling him “stupid.” A “retard.” But here was a girl telling me that my brother should literally be killed. For what? His disabilities? My brother has brain damage, epilepsy, and is legally blind. According to this girl, he was not worthy of life.

To this, I say: You have never held Alex’s hand. Never fed him — feeling that muscle memory. You will never see his smile the way I see it — not as a “r*tard,” but as a boy who has defied all odds to get where he is. You will never know how he went from practically nonverbal to using speech. I remember watching my brother have a seizure. How I held him. How he stopped breathing for 9 minutes. It was heartbreaking. There is nothing deeper than the love you feel for someone when they are hurting.

You can say he should be euthanized. You can say he’s a vegetable, stupid, unworthy. But I will choose to remember the time he fell asleep in my arms. All the times we’ve laughed and sung Sesame Street. I will think about how he gives me a kiss saying, “Mwaah!” He is beautiful, and his life is special. No matter what you say… I will always remember that.

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