Sunday, March 10, 2013

lifelong commitment

On that very first night, the first of many long, sleepless, tear-filled nights after Boo was diagnosed with autism, I turned to The Husband and admitted something I hadn't wanted to admit before.

"We are really, really going to need Cheryl," I said.

Cheryl is The Husband's cousin. And even though nearly two decades separate them in age, she and our daughter Betty have more in common than some shared genetics.

They both have brothers who have autism.

Over the years, I have come to admire and respect and understand Cheryl in a way that I never, ever imagined. And I've come to feel grateful and appreciative that Cheryl is there for Betty now and will be there for Betty in the future.

These are rocky times in Betty and Boo's sibling relationship, but Cheryl gives me hope in so many ways that everything might just turn out to be OK. Because with the gift that is time, Cheryl herself has turned out to be more than OK. 

Cheryl and her brother Adam, are profiled in the Courier-Post (Southern New Jersey) newspaper today, in this gracious and sensitive article by Kim Mulford discussing adult siblings preparing to assume the care of their brothers or sisters with special needs.
Cheryl Resnick was perhaps 7 or 8 years old when she suddenly piped up from the back seat of the family car.
“Mommy, I want you to know it’s OK,” she told her mother, Ilene Resnick. “When Mommy and Daddy die, I’m going to take care of Adam.”
Read more from "Lifelong commitment: many adults are woefully unprepared to assume care for disabled siblings" here. 

photo of bird's nest taken by me, September 2012

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Lisa Gradess Weinstein said...

My best friend has a sister with developmental disabilities - her sister is now 45 and lives with her parents. My friend, ever since I have known her, has known that she would care for her sister once her mother and father couldn't do it anymore. It was a given....a commitment made out of love and family and loyalty, just as I'm sure Betty will do the same!

Melissa Sarno said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. This is a discussion I'm extremely interested in as I spent several years working on a novel about two inspiring young sisters I met long ago (one of whom had autism.) It seems I have never been able to get this novel quite 'right' in dealing with a topic I think is extremely important but the stories I read and people I met in my research have inspired and moved me in so many ways.

Elizabeth said...

Great article on a topic that doesn't get nearly enough publicity. I have worked a bit on national improvement projects around the issues of transition into adulthood and special needs children. There is so little information for siblings, particularly adult siblings -- and it makes me think more carefully about my sons and what their future might look like should I not be able to take care of Sophie.

Shieldmaiden96 said...

It's a small world after all... I went to high school with Kim Mulford. She is an excellent writer and I'm glad she wrote about your much loved so well.