“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.