Hi Hi Hi!
Today’s post is going to be different from my usual posts. In fact, I don’t think I have ever been this honest and “real” on a post before this one. I felt a need to talk about this – I rarely ever talk about my family, but I feel like there’s such a negative connotation around the subject that I needed to break my silence.
When I was the only child I remember constantly asking my parents for another sibling. I loved playing with my baby dolls, I thought it would be fun to have a real baby and I wanted to have someone I could play with. I watched so many TV shows and I thought it would be so much fun to have a younger sibling and when we got older we could become best friends and it’d be great! Then the day came when I found out that I was going to be an older sister. I couldn’t wait to have my little brother or sister with me and to finally have a baby in the apartment!
The day I finally got a glimpse of my little sister, I remember my dad coming out to talk to me. He said, “Your sister is a little different from everyone else. You will need to protect her all the time.” I wasn’t sure what he meant by that and I wasn’t sure exactly what that was going to mean as we got older, but I was soon to find out.
I couldn’t quite grasp the concept of down syndrome – in fact, I was so young I didn’t know what it was. All I knew was that for a while our weekends consisted of bringing my sister to physical therapy and speech therapy. I remember watching her learn how to walk, work on hand-eye coordination, etc. Then as my sister and I got older we started to bring her to Easter Seals, I still don’t really remember why we brought her there, but we did. In the mean time, we had one more sister join our family and we were complete.
Truth be told, as I watched/helped my sister grow up I immediately realized that it took her a longer time to learn and do things. She didn’t catch on to simple things like talking and learning how to use the toilet. It wasn’t till she started going to school did I realize exactly how different she was. She had to go into a head start program because she is “retarded” – but that doesn’t mean this whole story is a sad story.
Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t till I was maybe about 14-15 years old did I realize how lucky my family and I were to have my sister. I noticed the looks that everybody would give me, my family, and my sister – it was always a look of sympathy, as if they were sorry for our misfortune, but really, having her has been a huge blessing. If you want to talk about someone who has unconditional love, who holds no grudges, who can bring a smile to your face, who cares unconditionally, who is sassy, who always wants to have fun, who doesn’t care about what others think, it’s my sister.
When she got diagnosed with Leukemia I learned exactly why we were so lucky. Through every single prick of the needle, surgery, shot, disgusting tasting medicine, chemo therapy ravaging through her body, she always had a smile. She never complained; though she did cry a lot, after the crying she would go back to her normal self. Nurses loved her and so did her doctors. They always loved the way she would smile and remember their names. She always made them laugh and some nurses, even when they weren’t assigned to her room, would come in just to talk to her and see how she was doing.
I never fully understood how lucky my family and I were to have someone like my sister in our lives. She’s taught us how to be patient, be more caring, be more opening and accepting of others, how to laugh during tough times, how to be understanding, and so much more!
For those of you who have someone with Down Syndrome in your family, consider yourself lucky. Though they may never be able to live on their own, they bring so much light into the world. They are sassy individuals who don’t know that anything is wrong with them; in fact, there has been many times when my sister thought what other people were doing was weird. Raising a child with Down Syndrome is trying and at times extremely difficult. You are going to wish that they could pick up on things faster or you will sit there wondering what can you do so they will learn, but let me tell you, be patient and understanding. Children with Down Syndrome are special, but in a different way.
They will bring so much light into your life if you give them a chance. They are so sassy that it’s almost comical, but it’s because they know who they are and they know that they are fierce individuals. They are comfortable in their own skin and so accepting of others. They enjoy interacting and being social and at the end of the day they just want to have fun.
Having her be my sister makes me proud. I am legitimately proud and blessed that we were picked to have her in our family. To imagine life without having her in our family is unfathomable. I wouldn’t be where I am and I know for sure I wouldn’t be the same person.
There will be struggles and tough times, there will be times where you will ask “why did it have to be your family,” but let the be an encouragement to find beauty within the situation. These kids have so much love to give and when they care for you, they really care for you. They will love you no matter what and they will be there for you. My sister has tested us a lot and sometimes she brings us to our breaking point, but she has brought so many smiles and so much laughter, the good outweighs the bad.