My parents taught us to give everything of ourselves, to help others at every opportunity possible; to be aware that we are not the only ones in the world. They encouraged seizing the day, making the most of our one life, getting as much out of it as possible. They encouraged happiness and laughter and brotherly love. They encouraged adventure and fun and spirituality. They encouraged life.
My older brothers helped to enforce the idea of living into my days. They always did their best, were involved in anything they could. They followed their dreams, never worried about them not coming true. They always did what made them happy and what would benefit others the most. They learned not only in the classroom but around the world. They opened their lives to different cultures, different ideas, and different religions.
I live: As I heard stories and watched the lives of my brothers, I knew that life was nothing to take for granted. I wanted my part of it, and I wanted to give my part as well. So I did it. I became involved in many organizations in high school, I volunteered as much as possible. And, taking a leaf out of one brothers’ book, I took a year off after high school and moved to the Dominican Republic. I lived at an orphanage and taught English and volunteered at the local hospital. I savored every moment, whether in the classroom, at the hospital, or just out in the streets playing with the children.
I love: I hold every moment close to me. I reveled in the eyes of my young niece as she spoke her very first word. I felt the excitement of my sister’s first high school dance. I burst with pride and warmth when my brother proposed to the love of his life. I live for these moments, these moments of pure happiness and innocence. Of pure love. I love life. I love all the possibilities around me. I love the fact that everyone has a chance to make a better world.
I laugh: I am known for my smile and my laughter. I am known for my unfailing optimism, my energy, and my craving for adventure. There are countless moments around the dinner table I will never forget, where all ten of us dissolve into laughter we cannot suppress, where food goes untouched for minutes before we can compose ourselves enough to eat. There are study sessions and coffee breaks that are interrupted by giggles and cackles, telling that life is being enjoyed. Laughter rings through my house, whether at home or at school, raw and completely free. We are happy, despite the situations around us.
We are together, we are loved, we are whole, we are happy.
I am not one to sit back and let the world pass by. If there is something I want to do, I am going to do it. I cannot merely breathe through life. I must live it too. I have an urge to go out and save the world, and I am going to do everything I can to make it happen, with laughter in my heart.