Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Michael's 24th birthday

On Sunday, March 15th, we celebrated. my brother, Michael's 24th birthday at Chuck E Cheese...not a popular place for a 24 year old's birthday, but if you know my brother you know there is no other place he would rather celebrate. As I watched Michael on Sunday I though back to how he ended up wanting to spend his 24th birthday at Chuck E. Cheese and I thought I would spend some time reflecting (blogging) on Michael.

Michael had a rare disease called Rasmussen's Encephalitis (I put the name in especially for Hayley) which caused him to have seizures and eventually led to him needing to have a hemispherectomy (removal of half the brain). Michael is among a rare percentage of children who get this disease and of the children that receive the hemispherectomy Michael is in the 1% of children that don't fully recover. All medical termonology aside...Michael, who is now 24, functions at about a 1st grade level mentally. He has no short term memory and does not have fine motor skills on the left side of his body.

Going through something like that is never easy and there are times when I think about how different life would be if Michael was "normal". Then I think how different life would be if Michael were "normal" (I realize I just said the same sentence twice, but this time I meant it in a different way). Michael has such a pure, child-like faith in God that is truly inspiring. I think about how my relationship with God could be if I could always have that kind of faith. I think of how Christmases would have been different growing up...Michael still believes in Santa and always asks, "how many more days until Christmas?" And because he doesn't have short term memory he has received the answer of 365... He could eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner...a hamburger and french fries. I don't think that I have ever met anyone who loves school or his teachers more than Michael. He would go to Vaca High for the rest of his life if he could. And Chuck E. Cheese...where this post began...have you ever seen a child's face when they get to go there for the first time? Well, that is Michael, every time. He always plays the same game over and over (skee ball) and usually picks the same prizes when he turns in his tickets. He gets so excited when Chuck E comes out to sing the Happy Birthday song "I say Happy you say Birthday...". He has a few friends from his class at school that he always invites. As I am typing I can't help but smile thinking about how much he enjoys it.

I know that God has used Michael to be a testimony in ways that we aren't even aware of. I am the person I am today because of how God has used Michael in my life. I am so thankful for my brother and I whenever I start to think...what if Michael was "normal"... I think...what if Michael was "normal"...

The Birthday Boy

Thumbs up from Michael

Blowing out the candles after the LONG birthday song

Michael and his friends Tony, Chuck E and Jimmy

It was Brooke's first time to Chuck E. Cheese so I had to throw a few pictures of her in too

She is glad Uncle Mikey likes Chuck E. Cheese because she did too!