In short, I am who I am because I am the sibling of a woman with Down syndrome. Life with my sister, Megan Jane Felt, has implanted in me patience, understanding, compassion, intolerance, uncontainable protectiveness, the belief that ones limits are more decided than given, humility, humor, a heart swollen with unconditional adoration, an appreciation for routine, persistence, more persistence, selflessness and faith in the god that keeps her safe. There are more but those are the ones that I employ daily. The struggles that came with being raised along side Megan extracted character qualities by necessity. We were shaped so that we all could thrive. There was no I; it was we or nothing. My family core became a functional team with the great haste. No one person more important than the other. From a gathering of threads, we became rope. I suppose I'll share a story. I had a birthday recently and I make certain to miss the phone call that comes in with a birthday song on the other end. I miss the call so that the song lands firmly on my voicemail. Frozen in time and readily available for when I need a boost in my day. The call came, I let it ring through and I waited. I shut my office door and I retrieved my message. I noted this year that Megan has discovered several new notes in her voice. Previously she'd cleverly used a variance in volume to achieve the illusion of notes. As I listened to this song, my brain gave me the image of what she and my mom look like as they sing into the speaker phone. Megan, watching mom closely for singing cues and mom watching Megan trigger the newly mastered singing muscles in her larynx. We, as a family, are quick to express pride and remain incredibly easy to entertain. After the voicemail there was the box. These boxes (entombed in too much tape and more magic marker than I knew cardboard could absorb) have carried pottery, oil paintings, crayon drawings, watercolors, pencil sketches, cursive practice sheets and pictures of random dogs. Among my favorites was a glazed clay cat lying on its back with it's feet stick straight in the air and its tail stretched flat. Megan had titled it, "road kill." I have mugs, sugar jars, change holders all marking the advancement of her craft. She's been through a blue period and a realist phase. She's pressed through abstraction and indulged in tracing. I have parade of her six legged animal sketches tattooed around my leg. Megan is an artist. This year's gift, the thing that cracked me open was the envelope that my card came in. she'd written my address in her best cursive. It read, amanda felt she's my sister 523 ne 19th ave I've never been so proud to be someone's sister. Ever.