I recently had dinner with a friend and her parents. Her parents were born in the 1930s and grew up in a much different time than me.
I asked her dad about his siblings. He teared up as he talked about his older sister, who had Cerebral Palsy. He shared a memory of walking down the street in Brooklyn, holding her hand and watching the faces of disgust, hearing the whispers of hate and seeing people trying to avoid getting near them.
All he saw was his loving big sister. He said he was young, maybe 6 or 8 years old, and the hate he experienced scarred him for life.
I was so moved by his story — his pure emotion and love for his sister. I have met many siblings of children with disabilities. They all go through their own experiences with discrimination, and the first time they realized that some people are just ignorant. I am thrilled that most people embraced my daughter during her time on this planet. Sadly, there were at least a few times we felt hatred and discrimination.
Every year I believe that the world gets a little kinder than the year before. People learn from others. Our children are forced to be teachers and to show the world how amazing they are.
If you are reading this, you can help to teach the world. You can show people the similarities, not the differences, we all share regardless of our abilities.
Different is not bad; different is just different.