My Brother, Now and Forever... It was the author Albert Schweitzer who said, "In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." My big brother, Clark Durland, is 25 years old, and having him in my life makes me the person I am today, and who I will forever be. For me, being a young child with a sibling with special needs was sometimes difficult. Everything seemed to always be centered on Clark's needs which required a lot of time and attention. Clark has never been an outcast, but trying to prove he belongs, often found both of us discriminated against. It is just one of the obstacles I've had to face. Such challenges have allowed me to be more independent and mature. Clark has been blessed with a magnetic personality that draws people in. He has this unique ability to completely turn someone's day around, which makes me smile. I think of us as twins, but born seven years apart. Because he has limited articulation, I have become his voice and advocate. We know each other's hearts before we speak. It kind of makes his "disability" become less of a focus and only his "abilities" shine through. He motivates me to be less judgmental of individuals, and that has given me a sense of compassion for those I encounter. We share a lot of common interests, too. Both of us are gifted in the area of performing arts and like to share our musical talent. While it is hard for Clark to talk, he carries on with words of songs unimaginable. I choreograph routines and together we sing and dance at events. You can tell he is having the time of his life while on stage. Our relationship as brother and sister is hard to describe. A hug from Clark can stop my tears from flowing and a smile from him makes my day. His touch is remarkable; it is so gentle and brings me comfort. Rocking out to the radio, having pillow fights, watching a marathon of musicals, and baking special treats for Santa are just fun times we share together. Most importantly, through his eyes I am reminded to slow down, to take time and enjoy what life has to offer. He finds the beauty in things most people pass by and never see. "All I Ever Needed to Learn I Learned in Kindergarten" basically describes the skills that Clark has been able to master. Those sandbox lessons mean a lot to me too, especially, "And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together." We've conquered that lesson. That is what life is all about for us.