Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Importance Of Siblings

Today is National Siblings Day, a day of celebration and recognition for brothers and sisters. Imagine! staff member Lou Ella Price, who works in Imagine!'s Innovations department, wrote a reflection on her experiences as a sibling of someone with an intellectual disability. Here is Lou Ella’s story.

  The Importance of Siblings

When I think about the people that are important in my life, I often think about my sister. I can look at the past 30 years and recall fond childhood memories with Merribeth, and I often wonder how each of us survived the awkward teenage years together. I remember when we thought the world was ours to conquer, and the day that I realized that wouldn't be possible for both of us. I can remember the guilt and the tears of being the "normal" sibling and having no power to change it.

Looking at my sister now, I know that I often frustrate her because I know her better than anyone, and I know that she loves me because I’ve never seen the disabilities that she has lived with since birth. I don't see her wheelchair or the fact that she is non-verbal, and often, my hardest days are the days when I realize that "normal" isn't the lives that we lead. I have always looked at my sister as someone who should be admired. Someone who has beaten the doctors’ odds and lived past eight years of age, someone who walked even if for only a few years, someone who won gold medals in Special Olympics, someone who has learned how to talk, and someone who ultimately understands and loves me for me. For all of the differences that Merribeth and I have, and all of the trials and tribulations we have experienced, we have always been there for each other, and together we are a force to be reckoned with.

We often forget the siblings of individuals with disabilities and their potential roles in the lives of the people we serve. As a community, we need to reach out to siblings who want to be there, and we need to support individuals in services to maintain positive relationships with their siblings. I think of all the memories that I have, and I know that my life would not be the same without Merribeth. And while it has never been easy, it has always been worth every minute.

Thursday, April 10, 2014 is National Siblings Day, and Innovations would like to encourage everyone at Imagine! to reach out to the siblings you know and thank them for being a part of the lives of the individuals that we serve.

Siblings Lou Ella (left) and Merribeth.


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