All my memories of riding a school bus come before fifth grade, since I was schooled at home after that particular year.  But it’s amazing how many memories there are in those first few years.  One very vivid image in my mind is riding the bus with Alyssa.

Of course, those of you who have been on school buses know the younger kids sit up front and it tends to progress backwards according to age.  This means that kindergartners sit in front and junior high/high schoolers are in the back.  Well, Alyssa never paid any attention to such unspoken social norms, so almost every day after school, we would climb into the bus and she would march right to the back, where she would find some junior high or high school boy and promptly climb into his lap.

 

What I remember most about this daily pattern is that the boys at the back of the bus were not very nice. In fact, you might say they were bullies.  None of MY friends (that is, 2nd/3rd graders and younger) liked being around those boys.  Except for Alyssa.

 

Since she was always at the back of the bus, I would sometimes find myself compelled to journey to the far reaches of the bus to see if she was okay.  I remember making one nerve-wracking trip to find those boys trying to feed my sister empty candy wrappers.  For a moment, nerves were a thing of the past as I furiously lectured them and marched back to the front of the bus with Alyssa in tow.

 

But what I now remember is the fact that Alyssa’s persistent, unchanging, unconditional love for those boys never changed.  Nothing they did could faze her.  She didn’t care if they fed her candy wrappers.  Every day, she walked back there, climbed into their laps, and just hugged and kissed them all the way home.

 

And over time, something profound happened.

 

At the end of the year, those bullies weren’t bullies anymore.

 

That’s another one of the many beautiful things about special siblings.  They teach us the meaning of unconditional love in the only way that we could truly grasp it’s full meaning.

 

By demonstrating unconditional love to every person they meet, every day of their lives.