Today is National Siblings Day, which celebrates siblings of every stripe, everywhere. However, for people with disabilities, the sibling relationship is often quite different than what is experienced by those who have brothers and sisters without disabilities. Yes, there’s love, and yes, there’s sometimes rivalry and tension. But so often the bond seems to go far beyond what you would expect of typical siblings. Siblings of people with disabilities are frequently the ultimate protectors, caretakers and friends, with a connection not always explained by simple family ties. Guest blogger and sibling Ashley Knapp is all of those things. We thank her for choosing to give us a glimpse into the world she shares with her brother.
My younger brother Kain was born when my mother was 26 weeks pregnant. He had a rough time and was on a ventilator for the first 4 weeks of his life. His lungs hadn’t had a chance to develop, and the lack of oxygen caused his Cerebral Palsy. His retinas also detached causing him to lose his vision, leaving him completely blind. He also has a rare condition called contaminated bowel syndrome.
My bother has had hundreds of surgeries in his lifetime, which is hard to believe. However, he still wakes up with such a huge smile on his face every single day. My mother, Erica, always tells of how although my brother is barely verbal, as soon as he wakes up he is yelling my name. We have a bond like no other, and nothing will ever be able to get in the way of that.
At 18, immediately after graduating from Belmont High School in Dayton, Ohio, I left for the United States Army to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for boot camp. It was one of the hardest things I had ever chosen to do in my life. I had never been away from my family before, and kept pictures of them in my bible that I got to look at during our personal time
and before I went to sleep. It wasn’t long before I was assigned to my first duty station at Fort Drum, New York. At nearly 10 hours away from home, it was hard being away from my brother. The first year away, I sent him a ‘record yourself’ book so he could hear my voice every night. After a few years in the military, it was time to change my life path and I returned to Dayton, Ohio, where I still currently reside. I have started pursuing my
music career. Now I get to sing to him and watch his smile, with those big dimples, whenever I want and I love it. I love my brother. We have a bond like no other, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.