In praise of Rebecca Bradley – and brothers and sisters of beautiful children

Essay describes her love for a little sister born with ‘a touch of Down syndrome’

Nine-year-old Makayla Bradley, with her sister Rebecca at home in Churchtown, Dublin. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Nine-year-old Makayla Bradley, with her sister Rebecca at home in Churchtown, Dublin. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Sat, Jun 7, 2014, 09:22

When Rebecca Bradley wrote a school essay about her sister, she couldn’t have imagined her story would soon be read and discussed and admired and shared by so many people.

Published by The Irish Times last weekend under the headline “My little sister inspires me to be stronger, better, kinder”, it describes Rebecca’s love and admiration for a sister who was – in Makayla’s own words – born with “a touch of Down syndrome”.

“The reaction was crazy. I was completely astounded. I haven’t got my head around it yet. My friends have all been talking about it, and teachers coming up to say they loved it,” says Rebecca, who is sitting her Leaving Cert exams at Sion Hill College in Blackrock, Dublin.

The essay describes nine-year-old Makayla’s courage in facing challenges that many take for granted. “In 18 years I haven’t done as much work as she has in nine,” wrote Rebecca, also describing how her sister enriches the life of everyone she comes into contact with.

“I thought it was amazing, it described Makayla so well,” says mum Yvonne, though perhaps the reason the composition struck such a chord – particularly on social media – was how it describes many such relationships so well.

It is a salute to all brothers and sisters, who listen, play, share and simply understand how privileged they are to share their lives with beautiful children such as Makayla. And what did she make of the article?

“She was so excited about getting her picture taken,” says Rebecca. “She took half an hour to read it and she keeps a copy of it in her room. She thinks she’s famous now!”