Celebrating Siblings: Amy and Kristy

Today’s installment of SibLibs is by Amy Staniszewski and Kristy Hartman

Photo of Amy and Kristy as kids, and as adults.

Sib-Lib completed by Amy:

My sibling’s name is: “Kristy”
My sibling is (giggling) “I have no idea” years old
My sibling’s job is: “Social worker! Not really, but feels like it! You work in a school”
My sibling’s favorite food is:  “chocolate chip mint ice cream with many many many sprinkles”
My sibling laughs at: (laughing hysterically) “when I fart”
My sibling always says:  “I’m hungry!”
My sibling’s favorite color is: “what you’re wearing right now – purple”
If my sibling had time s/he would love to: “hang out with me, your sissy”
My sibling and I like to:  “go to water parks”
I love my sibling because: “You’re my sissy sissy on the wissy!!!  And that’s all I’m telling you because you know the answers to this already!”

A brief explanation and reflection from Kristy:

Amy struggled with speech when she was young, and found it very difficult to say my name (Kristy) so she started saying “sissy” instead. During this time Amy’s speech therapist strongly encouraged us all to play around with rhyming words because it would strengthen her fine motor skills with speech. At this point Amy was about three and I was five years old, and we would have fun being silly and rhyming words. One of our favorite rhymes and terms of endearment to each other was “sissy sissy on the wissy”.

Sitting beside Amy at thirty-four and thirty-six years old and hearing her reference our silly little rhyme completely out of the blue is one of the greatest gifts I can ever ask for as a sibling with typical abilities. It is a gift because although our relationship is incredibly special, I mourn the elements of my sister that will never develop. Our peer relationship of shared experiences began to shift once we hit adolescence as I began to leave childhood behind and Amy had no choice but to stay. Over the years there have been countless times where I have silently yearned for the ability to go to my sister and share an adult experience, good, bad, or otherwise, but we are in two very different places, and there are limitations to this part of our relationship. I accepted this fact long ago, and found peer substitutes to meet my needs (good friends are an amazing thing), but the sadness this yearning brings never truly goes away.

There are these moments, however, surprising little occurrences that catch me off guard and take my breath away. They are the moments where Amy and I share childhood memories, good, bad or otherwise, and there is no one else on the planet that can share these moments with me. Childhood is such an important stage of life and as I get older I am more and more aware of how influential moments of childhood have been on my life as an adult. It is a very vulnerable place for me and only my sister knows what my experiences were like because she was right there with me. Our emotional connection to these memories are the same and these moments of connection transcend disability. Not only are notions of limitation dissolved, but it is in these moments that I feel truly seen and understood. I have always been my sister’s protector and I always will be, but when we connect in this way, my emotional safety feels protected, and that enhances my life in ways I could never describe.

Throughout the rest of 2017, we’ll be sharing stories from SLN Board members and representatives and their siblings with disabilities to highlight the family bond and the uniqueness of the sibling experience. We hope these stories will resonate with you, and if they do, we ask that you consider showing your support for the sibling community by making a holiday donation to the SLN.

Giving is easy! We have a PayPal giving page, which you can access here: http://siblingleadership.org/get-involved/donate-now/

Additionally, we accept checks made out to the Sibling Leadership Network. Please mail them to our office at:
Sibling Leadership Network
332 S. Michigan Ave, Ste 1032 – S240
Chicago, IL 60604-4434

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