My name is Maxime. I am 24 years old and have a sister, a brother and many friends. I also have a “Buddy” named Éric; I would even consider him another brother. Éric and I share a story of brotherhood and camaraderie. My world has always been filled with love and friendship, however, the friendship that I share with Éric allows me to fill a need for sharing and giving that I have always carried with me.
My experiences with Best Buddies begun two years ago when I attended an information session about Best Buddies. I am always eager to meet new people and try new things and I felt that Best buddies would be a great opportunity for me to do just that. I am happy that I did because it was there that I began a journey of friendship with Éric. A friend like no other I had ever had and like none that I ever will.
Éric and I have a chemistry that was obvious from the moment we met. It was clear that there were two things that would connect us, laughter and hockey! Éric’s love of laughter and my prankster side compliment each other to a tee and our love for hockey is a constant topic of heated conversation.
I soon introduced Éric to my friends so that he may understand that he was important to me. I did not, in fact, understand how important until I introduced him to my family. He was instantly accepted by my family as any other of my friends would have been.
During the first year that Éric and I were friends we discovered an appreciation for each other that I realised I took for granted with my other friends. He taught me how to be a real friend and to appreciate everything about my friends. I thought I would be joining Best Buddies to help others but this was not the case. Éric was the teacher. The lessons I learnt as a student buddy helped me to decide to become Campus Coordinator of my chapter. My commitment to Best Buddies only proved to Éric that I believed in Best Buddies and that a friendship between people that have an intellectual disability and those that do not are possible and meaningful. My motivation encouraged his motivation and we are not only friends but colleagues as he is our Buddy Advocate.
We have now been friends for two whole years. I feel like his brother and he thinks of me as his. I have the chance to talk to his mom often and she recently shared with me that he has been a more confident person since our friendship began. I have been able to support him in the places where he needed support and he has always been there for me. My girlfriend and I recently separated and Éric was always there for me. He even told my roommate not to wait up because he was taking me out and we were going to “cruise” and would be very late. His sense of humour and his positive view on the world is always a breath of fresh air.
It is very difficult to summarize such an important friendship in a few words. There are so many things that I want to share. I do not know if I should start with our evening at the bowling alley, our hilarious games of mini-put, our long conversations over coffee or the times we just sit and enjoy each others’ company while we watch a game of amateur baseball or hockey. There is one memory that will stay with me forever. That is the day we watched a Canadians game at the Bell Center in Montreal. Éric was so proud to be able to watch a live game at the place that he sees every week on TV. It was inspiring and refreshing to see someone take so much pleasure in something that some people take for granted. Just to add to our feelings of euphoria, the Canadians won! Éric talks about it all the time.
This has been our story, Éric and I. We are kindred spirits, we are brothers and we have the ability to encourage each other to dream and to realize those dreams. We will continue to learn from each other as he has an energy that is volcanic and a “joie de vivre” that is contagious. I am proud to call him my friend and that I may do so for a long, long time.
Université de Sherbrooke
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