He is a sixteen year old boy, and when you look at us simply as people, there is no difference; we are equal, two friends who share common interests, frequently engaging in activities together. We talk about how our day went, listening and communicating through more than just words. However, once you fill in the details, the prejudice comes rushing in like the tide, engulfing an amazing human being into a world separate from the one he fits perfectly into now. This is my neighbor and one of my closest friends, a person no different to me then any other, one who has taught me the art of patience and sincerity along with other crucial emotions molding the person I am today. This is Christopher.

Christopher was born with an unknown disease, one never documented in medical history, and one no doctor could explain; he possessed the average forty-six chromosomes, appeared to have no brain damage, yet something was wrong. His mind grows at a stalled rate, yet he has made vast strides in his education. In spite of what countless people assume when I tell them about him, Christopher can talk. I have had the joy of hearing him say “daddy”, “Barbara”, a family friend, and “Ashley”, his older sister. Christopher has no need for words though, he speaks through sign language and his own form of verbal communication, which over time, I have become fluent in. While he cannot attend the same school as I, Christopher does well, learning to spell and do mathematics at the rate his mind can handle. I have been a neighbor to Christopher since we were born, only two weeks apart, but began to interact with him constantly around the age of twelve. At first, I didn’t know what to think of him; I had no understanding of his expressions- a mixture of hands and sounds -and chose to ignore conversation with him. But overtime, I adapted to his ways, and a friendship began to grow.

One activity Christopher and I enjoy above all else is basketball, more specifically, shooting hoops in the court. This time allowed me to gain understanding of who he is; the basketball hoop was where Christopher went from being my neighbor, to being my friend, to being one of the most important people to me. I saw how he conveyed his emotions, the contagious smile and laughter, his dive into confusion where he signals “no” and gazes into space, and his look of distress followed by the cupping of his ears and the shutting of his eyes to block out a sound he doesn’t wish to hear. I have witnessed more emotions fill Christopher’s eyes, more feelings spark from his hands then I have seen from any other person I have met. To me, Christopher is more than what people see, and what they see is only the mere surface. Similar to how the ocean depths have yet to be discovered, Christopher remains a dark and unexplored enigma that most will simply cast with the other “retards” of the sea. He is not retarded, or even slow for that matter. Rather he is a present, a gift from God above, brought to earth to teach us that what you see is not what you get, that people are more than what they can tell you with their words, more than what you can see at first glance. He teaches us that even those who doctors classify as “mentally challenged” can enlighten those deemed fit to function in society, that despite what you may think, there is more to a person than your first interaction, that their life alone may be enough to change yours as Christopher has done to mine. Yes, by definition he is “special”, but to me he’s the kind of special that a best friend is to another, that a twin is to their identical. Christopher is the most “special” person in my life.