By Abigail Johnson
This picture is one of the earliest pictures in my phone of me and my older brother, Britton. There are a few things that I find when describing this picture, such as my mouth is wide open for some reason, there is a boy lying on the stairs behind us with just his feet showing, and we are on some stairs at our old church. I went on to research the date that this picture was taken, and I found a news article on the exact date of this picture from CBS News about a high school student in 11th grade, just 16 years old, who had brought a gun to school and shot himself that morning. He shot himself because his parents threatened to take away his afterschool activities due to bad grades.
I really did not think much of it and went on scrolling through my phone to find more old pictures. In doing so, I picked up on a huge detail that I had missed in describing the picture before, and that is my brother is not in his wheelchair by this point yet. Now, this may seem like a confusing detail at first, but let me now tell you about my older brother, Britton.
Britton is nothing short of a pure miracle, and I will explain to you why. When Britton was much younger, he was diagnosed with a terrible disease known as muscular dystrophy, in which your muscles progressively weaken a tremendous amount over time. This picture was taken in the year 2006; Britton was just 11 years old, living his life as a normal kid. I went back to find more pictures, and as I did so, I realized an important detail, in that 2006 was the very last year Britton would ever be able to walk. In 2007, Britton faced a rapid drop in his muscle mass that caused his legs to give out, bringing him to the point of a wheelchair. My family was faced with the news from doctors that this incredibly selfless and loving 11-year-old boy would be lucky to live to see 13. My family did all that we could to ensure that we spent as much quality time with him as possible and made the most of his precious days of life.
Incredibly, Britton has surpassed the life expectancy his doctors gave us, and not by just a few years… Britton is now 27 years old and still fighting every single day for his precious life.
His journey has not been easy by a far shot. Muscular dystrophy weakens your muscles progressively over time, and his legs giving out was just the first of many heartbreaking points that he has had to face.
Britton and me in 2006, with no wheelchair.
Although he was in a wheelchair, Britton loved getting outside and having as much fun as he could while the day lasted, and that privilege has now been taken from him, as he cannot last sitting upright in his chair for longer than a few hours at a time. Britton loved more than anything to eat incredible food, but this ability is now stripped away from him, as he is fed from a feeding tube, not able to taste food ever again. Britton loved watching tv, and he was always flipping through channels with the remote as the ads came over so that he was not forced to watch them; however, his fingers are now permanently stuck, and he is now no longer able to move them.
These are just three of the many unthinkable trials Britton has overcome within the past couple years, and by now, you probably cannot even imagine how much more he has gone through since he was that sweet little 11-year-old boy sitting on those stairs with me.
All of the kids who had been diagnosed around the same time as Britton have now passed away, and Britton is our one miracle still holding on to his precious life. This is how I found it so amazing that the article I found from that exact date is about an extremely young person taking their own life due to feeling they meant nothing because they had privileges taken away from them. It pains me to hear of these people who have so much life and future ahead of them choose to give that privilege up in an instant; especially when we have people in the world like Britton and the other kids who lost their lives that would give everything just to spare one year of life, no matter how bad life seems to get for them and how many things they miss out on. Even in the condition Britton is currently in, he still fights; he still smiles and laughs; and he is still living his precious life as best he can no matter what or how much happens to him.
Britton is and will always be my number one inspiration and motivation for absolutely everything that I do. I want the world, especially the people struggling with the decision of whether or not to take their life, to hear Britton’s story and realize that life is so precious, and their life is so astonishingly worth fighting for too, no matter how many things may be taken away.
Britton and me in 2007, not even a
year after the first picture.
Abigail Johnson is an early college student at CVCC.