Frontline Initiative: Health and Wellness

My Wish for You: A Sister's Note of Appreciation


Diana Pastora Carson is sister to Joaquin, who receives support from direct support professionals to live the life he wants.

Good-looking middle-aged Latino man and woman (siblings) hug. Woman is smiling. Man is looking down solemnly.

Diana and Joaquin having a moment of appreciation for the life they've created together.

I’m THAT sister. The one who is all “up in your business” when you’re working with my sibling. Yeah, you know me, don’t you?

Or do you?

I need you to know something.

My brother and I have a sibling relationship that dates back to 1969 when I got to hold his tiny infant fingers in mine.

I celebrated on his first day of school (he was 6) because prior to that day, he didn’t have a right to a public education, while non-disabled kids did.

I remember his traumatic teen years with no access to reliable communication; everyone trying to control him rather than support him; and the ultimate crisis, when at age 17, our family was forced to drive him to a state institution, a horrible place, where he “lived,” not once, but twice, for a total of 15 years of his life.

My parents and I networked, educated ourselves, strategized, and then fought to get him out. After three years in court, we won.

1970s family portrait of a beautiful Spanish mother, handsome Italian father, who resembles Elvis, brown-haired and brown-eyed toddler son, and daughter. Mother, father, and son are smiling. The 4-year-old daughter looks with distrust at the camera.

Joaquin and Diana and their parents in 1972.

And now, he’s been my next-door neighbor for more than 11 years, hurting, processing, healing, thriving, with good days and bad days, simply living his life in the most self-determined and dignified way possible.

It isn’t perfect. It’s sometimes messy. But it’s family. It’s friends. It’s getting warm, fresh laundry out of the dryer on a cold morning. It’s cuddling up in his warm, fuzzy blanket each night. It’s a house that smells of yummy meals prepared with love. It’s homemade brownies from the neighbor. It’s car rides into town to shop, to visit parks and beaches, or to get his favorite burger. It’s just relaxing in the shade of a big oak tree in his own yard.

It's the life that he and I have and could not live without you, the direct support professionals who support him.

His life quality is a reality now, with 24-hour support in his own home, making his own choices, having access to communication, access to dignity, and access to community belonging.

And my life quality exists because of you as well. When you honor my brother with your professional work, you give me peace of mind. You give me freedom. You help us to heal together. You give us hope.

Tall, handsome, Latino man wearing dark pants, sweater, and beanie, smiles radiantly as he walks along his dirt road. In the background, Latina woman walks dogs near white, wooden fence. Greenery in the distance.

Joaquin Carson radiates joy as he walks on his country road with his sister and dogs.

And my life quality exists because of you as well. When you honor my brother with your professional work, you give me peace of mind. You give me freedom. You help us to heal together. You give us hope.

And that’s something I remember, or rather, I know, every day. Not in the same way that people know that a tree is called a “tree.” For most humans, the name of a tree is something you remember, or you know, by rote, but without thoughtful appreciation for what a tree actually means, or all that it provides in your life. We take trees for granted. But when I say that I remember, that I know, that you help us heal, that you give us hope, I mean it. I know deeply, and I appreciate who you are in my life. I am in touch with all that you provide, from the roots to the trunk to the limbs to the leaves.

I know. I am in awe of your commitment, growth, strength, and hard work. And I feel indebted to you for all that you provide in my world.

So yes, I may just be THAT sister, seemingly all up in your business. But know this: I’m just doing my best to be a good sister to Joaquin. After all, he and I have been on this journey for a long time, and we had to fight hard to get you here with us. So, I’ll own that I’m THAT sister. Far from perfect or ideal.

Rear view of a man wearing a backpack, blue jeans, a plaid shirt, and a hat. He walks along a dirt path in the middle of a green pasture. Dark, billowy clouds hover in the sky.

Joaquin Carson enjoys a hike on a neighborhood trail.

But I’m also THIS sister. The one who gets it, who supports you, who wishes the greatest blessings in your life, and who appreciates every minute that you are here for my brother. And for me. You are loved and valued. Truly.

This is my wish for you. May you know that you are valued. May you know your self-worth. May you experience sweet miracles in your life every day. May your family and friends be close and well.

May your home be filled with the aromas of yummy meals prepared with love. May your neighbors surprise you with fresh brownies. May you have an abundance of shade trees in the heat of summer, and the comfort of soft fuzzy blankets on the coldest of nights.

Important note:

Joaquin gives Diana permission to share about their journey together. He has been present and has participated in many presentations about their journey to inclusion.

Learn more

To learn more about Joaquin and Diana’s journey, visit , watch her TEDx Talk , or listen to her podcast .