My Brother Miguel
Today it’s my brother Miguel’s 18th birthday. And I am very, truly sorry for not being there celebrating his 18th birthday, but I celebrate here, by myself, as if I was there with all of you. And it’s reason to celebrate, because 9 years and 11 months ago we didn’t know if we would ever be celebrating his 18 years of life.
Ten years ago, my brother was a cheerful, prankster little boy. Everyone who looked at him would be automatically infected by his happiness and nobody imagined that what happened would happen.
On April 30th 2002, practically 10 years ago, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. This is exactly that kind of situation which we know that can happen, that it exists and that is serious, but we think it only happens to others. It was a huge shock for our family and friends, that completely and forever changed our lives, from that moment we were told he was making a hydrocephalus and that an urgent surgery was urgently needed.
On the next day, he got into the operating room, while our brother João Pedro and I were in school. We were only 9 and 12 years old, respectively. In the afternoon, after classes, we went to the hospital to visit Miguel. At that age we didn’t really know what was going on, but I remember walking in that room and looking at my little brother, lying in a hospital bed, without hair, excessively white and with a kind of bump on the head. I was really impressed by that at the time, that even today it’s impossible for me to get that image out of my head.
Fortunately, there are several things that didn’t disappear in my brother and that helped us all to get through the worst moment in our lives: his smile, his willpower, his courage, his patience, his good humor, his faith, his hope and his capacity of accepting the most complicated situations, as if they were nothing… Miguel wasn’t that cheerful, prankster little boy anymore, but he was the bravest and strongest child I have ever met… And being younger than me, he’s still my hero. Every time I have this insignificant problem, I think about how he overcame the biggest problem he had in his life and that affected the lives of all the people who love him.
I can’t even imagine how my life, our lives, would be if Miguel hadn’t been strong as he was, hadn’t fought as he fought and hadn’t faced this situation the way he did. He never wondered why this was happening to him; he never, not for a single moment, thought about giving up; he never complained of pain or malaise… And, above that all, he never, ever, lost his faith.
I am so proud of my brother and of the young man he became to be, of the dreams he had that came true, of the way he keeps facing certain situations in his life and never taking advantage of his situation, which made him the special, cheerful, fighter, brave, joyful, mature, strong young man he became… And I am so happy to have him in my life, in our lives, because he taught us so many things, that he can’t even, or ever will, imagine.
Miguel, you are a miracle. You are our miracle. And you’re my hero and my biggest inspiration.
Catarina Ramalheira Ferreira
Here there are a few pictures. The first one is the family picture, before Miguel got sick. The dog is Wally, which birthday is also on the same day as Miguel’s. The following pictures are my brothers and mine: the blond one is João Pedro and the brown haired one is Miguel.
I take the chance to also wish my grandpa a happy birthday, who, 18 years ago, had his best birthday gift ever: my brother. Since then, he’s been calling Miguel his “little gift”. My brother was born a month before he was supposed to, and on my grandpa’s birthday. Coincidence? There are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason.
Today I can clearly say that Miguel is not just grandpa’s “little gift”; he’s everybody’s “little gift”. His life is the biggest gift that all of us could have. A true miracle.
My grandpa and my brother, besides being born on the same day, are also two of the people that most inspire me and who I feel most proud of. The way they live their lives and they way they deal with things everyday is absolutely extraordinary. They do know how to live. Because, as my grandpa says, it’s not hard to live, but it is indeed hard to know how to live. And they know how to live, which is one of the things I’ve been trying to learn from them.
My grandpa, Alberto Ramalheira, and I: