Six years ago Haylie came into my life. Haylie is my younger sister. She is fun, loving, and always curious to know what is going on around her. However, Haylie has not always had it easy.
About two years ago my family and I noticed that Haylie was struggling in school. My mom knew that something was wrong. This was not the first time one of her children had a problem. I almost went blind as a child.
My mom decided to have Haylie’s eyes and ears checked. Haylie needed glasses, but that was the least of her problems.
It came like a bolt of lightning; Haylie had hearing loss. I don’t think that I will ever forget that day as long as I live. My family was in complete shock. It seemed almost unreal that no one had realized something was wrong for so long.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her. She could not hear for the first four years of her life. All she wanted to do was learn but she could not even hear us. Haylie has fifty percent hearing loss in both ears. The doctor said that she was born with nerve damage in her ears. The doctor also said that she would read our lips in order to know what we were saying.
Most people do not understand the difficulties of having hearing loss. Imagine sitting in a restaurant and it being so loud that you can’t even bear to be there. This happens to my younger sister a lot. In addition, when she is older she will never be able to go to a concert.
It makes me stop and think how it could happen to anyone. I feel as though I have learned so much from Haylie. I no longer think that I am invincible. I know that she is lucky because it could be worse.
I feel like having gone through this experience with Haylie, I now understand what other families with children who have disabilities go through. I feel for those families. I know that every day is a struggle. My eyes have been opened up to the world around me because of Haylie. I no longer put up with the ignorance of other people. People don’t understand until they have experienced it. It makes me sad to know that it took this experience for me to realize this, but I guess it’s better than never knowing.
I see the world in a different light now. I can almost put myself in my sister’s shoes and hear what she hears. She is only six, but I feel like she is the most incredible person that I know.
Haylie is now in Kindergarten. She wears hearing aids and goes to occupational and speech therapy weekly. She is just like any other six year old. Haylie has been such an inspiration to me. It’s funny to say, but I believe you can learn from a six year old.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.