You don’t see me.
At least, at first you don’t see me. You see him first, my brother.
It’s easy to see why; he is different.
You don’t hear me.
I’m the one helping take care of my brother, so that my parents can do the task at hand. I’m the quiet one, patiently waiting to be noticed.
It takes a while to finally see that I am there.
That is, if you stick around long enough to realize he has siblings.
What you don’t know is, I see you.
I see the stares; the questions you want to ask but don’t; the disapproving glances showing that you are uncomfortable and want to leave.
What you don’t know is, I hear you.
After the stares and uncomfortable glances, I hear the comments and questions: Something is wrong with him. He’s not normal. Why can’t they control their son? Why is he different?
Although I am invisible to you in that moment, you are not invisible to me.
You don’t realize that in looking at my brother, you are looking through me. I am glass to you.
I am a glass child.
The term “glass child/sibling” did not entered my vocabulary until several years ago. It took a few months of questioning to finally figure out why people were calling me a typical “glass sibling”. To be honest, it was weird to hear someone say I was “typical.” My life has been anything but typical. The more I understood what it means to be a “glass sibling” and how it has impacted my life, the more I realized how many siblings are out there and how having a brother or sister with a disability drastically shapes our lives.
Although there are many of us out there, we all have different experiences. And like every story, some of the things I write about will be the same for all of us, while other things will be very different. One thing is for sure, we all deeply care about our siblings.
Do you know of someone who has a sibling with a disability? Are you a sibling? I would love to hear your stories!
Becky Bernier has been with Joni and Friends since 2013. She serves as the Senior Program Coordinator for the Charlotte Joni and Friends Area Ministry. Becky has a brother with cerebral palsy and developmental delays. Her heart is to minister to families impacted by disabilities – especially typical siblings.
This blog originally appeared on beckybernier.com.