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Live, Love, Laugh
Kenzie & Cole
Kenzie & Cole
Live, Love, Laugh

“Live. Love. Laugh.” I never really paid that much attention to this phrase, until my little brother was born. Cole Santiago Quintela was born on 3/11/08, six weeks before his due date. Within a week of his birth, Cole was diagnosed with Down syndrome. When I tell people that, they generally apologize, but he is perfect the way he is - a happy, emotional, loving individual. This little boy taught me the best lesson I could ever learn: “Live. Love. Laugh.” He taught me how to live by surviving. Within his five years of life, he survived Graves' disease, heart surgery, 1.5 years of daily seizures, being bitten by a brown recluse spider and almost losing his vision. He had his tonsils & adenoids removed, had tubes put in his ears multiple times. He taught me how to laugh through his laughter. We used to play a game where I would shine a light on the door and then smack it, kind of like we were killing fairies. Sorry, if that sounds gruesome, but he thought this was the funniest thing in the world. Cole would laugh hysterically and fall onto the floor because he couldn’t even sit up anymore. Even today if he’s crying, I can just walk over and smack the door - he starts to giggle until it turns into an all-out belly laugh. Soon everyone else in the room can’t help but laugh too; it’s just contagious. He taught me how to love. He taught me about an unconditional love that I had never felt before. Just the other day he did something and I had to scold him. At first, he pouted but after a moment he followed me and gave me a hug, then asked for “music” so we could dance together. Even though he was mad at me and he can only speak in one word sentences, he used one word and a smile to tell me that even though he was mad he still loved me. He may not understand every word I say, but he does understand love and emotions. He shows me every day that he loves me by coming to me in the morning so we can listen to music before school, and giving me a big hug whenever I walk into the door saying “so much” because he can’t quite say “I love you” yet. Cole is the reason I truly learned how to “Live. Laugh. Love.” Through his life and the way he has lived it: thriving in bad situations, constantly laughing and showing an unconditional love, he taught me more than I thought he ever could. He’s still teaching me today. Even last night, he was teaching me how to dance while writing an essay and every time I said the word “love” while I practiced he would say it back to me, but I don’t mind the distractions, because he still has a lot to teach me and I still have a lot to learn.




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Henry Reyes, United States, CA
7/10/2013 12:56:45 AM
I know what you mean , my son is still teaching me about life and he's only 3 years old.

Karen Houghton, United States, KY
7/5/2013 11:59:23 AM
beautiful and touching story

Jennifer Brooks, United States, TN
7/1/2013 6:48:00 PM
McKenzie, What a precious story! My son,John, is 7 years old. He has taught me some very similar things. He forgives every offense completely~ each day is new. Thanks for sharing.

James Barnes, United States, KY
7/1/2013 11:57:53 AM
Love it! Well written and so true. Many times we do learn much more from the ones we think need to be taught.

Eloise Snow, United States, CA
6/26/2013 4:22:58 PM
When I say this is my great neice and nephew.....I mean GREAT! Tia

Mike Stiller, United States, CO
6/24/2013 10:44:09 AM
Cole is a very blessed young man to have such a loving, compassionate big sister. I've met you only once, but could tell from that chance meeting that you' were a very special gal. Blessings to you and your family...

Betty Shelden, United States, KY
6/23/2013 9:53:54 AM
Wonderful story McKenzie! Your words paint a picture and I can feel the love you and Cole share. Your family continues to amaze me, a true inspiration to all of us.

Jim Quintela, United States, VA
6/22/2013 9:55:05 AM
Great story and a great picture!

Pam, United States, KY
6/22/2013 9:19:55 AM
This is the BEST. Both Cole and big sister, McKenzie are very lucky. I would also like to note that every person in this family are amazing, loving folks. It has been a joy to know them. Thank you for sharing.

Kristina Blizzard, United States, KY
6/20/2013 10:36:34 PM
What a lovely story, from a wonderful young lady. Go you.

Debras Standridge, United States, KY
6/20/2013 3:26:45 PM
Mckenzie is an extraordinary young person who has the ability to rise to any challenge life will ever present .I have been blessed to see first hand how much love she has for not only her little brother but for her everyone.So proud to know her!

Diane Hughes, United States, KY
6/20/2013 11:23:07 AM
Kenzie you are such a special person and Cole is very blessed to have such a loving family.

Leslie Sepanek, United States, KY
6/19/2013 10:54:10 PM
The most amazing kids and family. The love they share is outstanding!! Hope my family can use this family as an example of living, loving, and laughing!!

Shiya Almeida, United States, CA
6/19/2013 10:53:06 PM
Love this story sooo much!! This is my cousin Mark's, children and everything that this family has gone through and continues to go through, shows how much love, strength & endurance this family has. This family has been truly blessed in ways most of us will never understand!!

CAROL BROUGHTON, United States, FL
6/19/2013 10:18:22 PM
Excellent story from a caring sister. Special needs people appreciate the little things and know unconditional love better than others. We have a lot to learn from them.

CAROL BROUGHTON, United States, FL
6/19/2013 10:16:47 PM
Great story - special needs people know unconditional love more than any other human. They appreciate the smallest things. We can learn a lot from them. Excellent story from a caring sister

Barbara Dunn, United States, KY
6/19/2013 10:14:11 PM
Such a beautiful story about a special sister and brother.

Sherry Sexton, United States, KY
6/19/2013 8:26:21 PM
Your essay is beautiful. May God bless you both.

Myrtle Rose, United States, KY
6/19/2013 8:07:49 PM
You are truly an amazing young lady and Cole is very blessed to have you in his life. Your whole family is an inspiration to all of us. Thank you for sharing this with us.

gerald roberts, United States, KY
6/19/2013 7:40:51 PM
a great story. my 18 yr old down syndrome grandson has taught me the same!!!!!

monica sallee, United States, KY
6/19/2013 7:22:34 PM
i loved the way you put it into words how true emotions work

Cole Quintela, United States, KY
6/19/2013 5:46:28 PM
I love my Big Sister!

Tammy Gross, United States, KY
6/19/2013 5:46:14 PM
Amazing sister and brother relationship! Their Mom is just as special, dealing with breast cancer right now....amazing family!

Mark Quintela, United States, KY
6/19/2013 5:45:36 PM
My AWESOME daughter and son!

Leanna wood, United States, IN
6/19/2013 4:35:00 PM
McKenzie, I have had the pleasure of meeting Cole and I think he is absolutely adorable. My son Jordon will be 3 next week and he also has Down Syndrome. Like you I continue to learn some wonderful lessons everyday from him. Cole is lucky to have such a great big sister!

Karen Estrada Leiva, United States, KY
6/19/2013 2:16:49 PM
What a lovely story, McKenzie! You're an awesome big sister! / ¡Que historia tan linda McKenzie, tú eres una hermana espectacular!

Janet Thompson, United States, IN
6/19/2013 2:10:19 PM
It's a beautiful story in which all of us can learn from. Cole is blessed with a wonderful family.

Cindy Oppel, United States, KY
6/19/2013 1:54:21 PM
Great story.....great family!

Tammy Ross, United States, KY
6/19/2013 1:44:40 PM
What an inspirational story! We can all learn something everyday if we just take the time.

amy ruth, United States, KY
6/19/2013 1:31:49 PM
I can feel your love for Cole through your writing McKenzie. Very beautiful story.

Eric W. Wright, United States, KY
6/19/2013 1:15:43 PM
Great story.

Karen Anderson, United States, KY
6/19/2013 1:15:04 PM
Very heart warming story. She is one awesome young lady!

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