It has been said that a sibling is a child’s first best friend. They are together every day to live with, play with, and even fight with one another. But all of that changes when a child is diagnosed with a life threatening disease or condition. The playmate that a sibling once had is now a patient, and cannot do all that they’ve been used to doing. The healthy sibling, whether younger or older, becomes a helping hand. When a child is sick, it affects the entire family in a major way.
My sister, Kayla, has cerebral palsy due to complications at birth. I was three-years-old when she was born, and immediately became a helper to my parents, coming alongside then to take care of her. Last year, her doctor realized that something was severely wrong with her lungs. Surgery would have been too big of a risk for her so she was placed in palliative care. About a week later, we received a visit from two wish granters asking Kayla what she wished for. They showed so much care and concern for our entire family because they knew how difficult this time had been for us.
That’s when I came to realize that when Make-A-Wish grants a child’s wish, it’s therapy for the siblings and parents as well. The wish granters make a great effort to include wish siblings into this magical time. As a wish sibling, I know firsthand. I was so grateful to Make-A-Wish and our sponsor for what they did for my sister, and how they strived to include me in the process also.
During Kayla’s wish reveal party, our wish granters allowed me to play a special role! A group of friends and I sang a Disney themed medley to surprise her with the news that we were headed to the Walt Disney World Resort for her birthday. Also at her wish reveal there were gifts for my sister and I to take on the trip, which made me feel like I wasn’t an afterthought.
It is not easy being the sibling of a sick child. I have a lot more responsibilities than the normal sibling. But for that week at Disney World, I had my sister and best friend back instead of the patient she had become. The Disney trip will always have a special place my heart!
A healthy child can often feel left out or overlooked because of their sibling’s illness. But today on National Sibling Day, I invite you to celebrate your siblings of all ages and life stages like I will alongside my sister Kayla.