“Tracey did all the things a big sister would do. She always called me ‘Nut.’ She helped me wash my hands, and brush my teeth. We rode bikes and played in the sandbox. Maybe our parents didn’t punish her as much. But other than that, nothing seemed different. I didn’t have a clue. Then one day a boy in our neighborhood called her ‘a retard.’ I remember running home and asking my dad what that meant. He stared at me for a moment, like he didn’t know where to start. And from that day on life was different. It’s not right to say that we weren’t equal anymore. But I went from innocent and not knowing, to feeling like I needed to protect her. Whenever I got invited to slumber parties, she didn’t. Unless I insisted. And she wasn’t invited to prom, but we got her a dress and brought her anyway. When Tracey got out of school at 21, there wasn’t much else for her to do. We didn’t have many programs in our town. So she stayed at home with Mom and Dad while I moved on with my life. Big changes were hard for her. She’d always say, ‘Why does God make us different? It’s not fair, Nut.’ She cried when I went to college. And I think my wedding was hard for her, even though she was the maid of honor. It’s not jealousy. It’s just that she wants to live a normal life too. When I had my two children, I was thrilled to watch her become their best friend, the same way she’d been mine. I always say that we raised them together. She loved my children more fiercely than a mama ever could. But once again, I watched them outgrow her and graduate through life. But Tracey taught them things I never could. My children never blink when people are different. She’s taught us all so much. She just loves everyone. And she rolls with things better than we give her credit for sometimes. Dad passed away in 2018. It was hard on all of us, but I know it was especially tough on her. I watched her during the entire funeral. She was greeting everyone and shaking their hands. And I remember thinking: ‘Wow, this must be so much for her.’ When the last person had left, I walked over and put my arm around her. And told her how proud I was. She just gave me a hug, and said: ‘Love you Nut.’”