While I’m not religious more spiritual, as it’s Easter time I use this holiday as another opportunity to reflect more on family and coming together. This was reinforced by a text which I received from my sister to say that my niece was putting my nephew to bed and there were lots of wonderful giggles coming from my his room. Thinking back and I will admit it is a little hazy, I believe my sister and I used to do that too. I loved (and still do!) my sister more than anything in the world. I always wanted to grow up to be like her as I thought she was the most incredible human being on the planet.
I was blessed as 99.9% of the time we got along like a house on fire. Despite having our little hiccups as siblings do, we played together a lot and I remember being so disappointed when she was ready to move on to do something else by herself. I was always having such a lovely time, why would I want to play by myself or do anything else when she was around?! We’d create boats in the garden out of stools, skipping ropes, tennis rackets and goodness knows what else. We’d voyage to exotic countries and have adventures while encountering all sorts of weather along the way. On the rainy days whilst in the living room (my memory recalls these more often being Sunday afternoons), we’d be marooned on an island (the couch and seats!) encased in shark infested water – unlucky for you if you needed the bathroom or were hungry/thirsty as that meant clambering over the furniture in a bid to keep all your limbs from those hungry fish!
As young as we were then, it wasn’t until I was much older that I appreciated just how much my big sister cared and worried about me and my epilepsy. She had the patience of a saint and put up with a lot when I was younger as I was a little beast on many occasions! Many an evening when I should have been in bed drifting off to sleep I would pad into the bathroom when she was in the shower to talk to her (which I loved doing) but, I would also fill up a cup of cold water repeatedly and throw it at her whilst she was in there – not such a nice little sister!! However, have no fear, she definitely got her own back further down the line!!
Looking back at my childhood, I feel like the epilepsy governed the whole family in many ways. In respect of the new alternative therapies which my mum would tirelessly research with the aim of attaining a better quality of life for me, this certainly did create a financial burden for a budget which was already extremely tight. My mum, although we were in a fortunate position to have her at home when we began school and she started to work, required a job with flexibility due to the need to come and collect me from school if I had suffered a seizure. Then of course there were the nightly seizures which interrupted everyone’s sleep, they’d equal sheet changing and bed switching as well as the endless hospital appointments which mum had to make time for. Then there was the impact on my sister with my initial hospitalization of the viral encephalitis and the explanation from my parents to a six year old that her sister was extremely sick and may very well die. I felt that life revolved around me and while I understand it wasn’t my fault I can’t help but feel guilty for my sister that the epilepsy dictated her childhood as much as it did mine.
My sister was the first to leave home as the call of Canada was strong for her in her early twenties and she has remained there ever since. This meant it wasn’t quite so easy to hop on a bus to go and visit her and we therefore missed out on the opportunity to spend time together as friends like many sisters do. However, despite the distance we have found it has never intruded upon the closeness that we have and after all, it just means I get to have some great long vacations in Canada!
I couldn’t have asked for a better family to be surrounded by growing up with all the love and support, so I dedicate this blog to a sister who wouldn’t have been any better had the decision to pick her been my own. I love you so much and it is a privilege for me to be your little sister.