To the Sibling Who Sacrificed for My Chronic Illness

Over the years, you’ve probably realized I’m sick a lot. At first, it likely didn’t make any sense. But as you grew up, you became more acutely aware of my signs, symptoms and a whole host of chronic illnesses. During the early years, neighbors, aunts, uncles and grandparents may have stayed with you while Mom and Dad were at the hospital with me. You were dragged to a few doctor’s appointments. OK, more than a few, but know that I will be forever thankful for your sacrifices.

As you reached the tween ages of 11 to 13, you found yourself having to spend the night alone, get yourself up for school in the mornings and make sure you had uniforms ready, breakfast to eat and that you were on the bus by 6:30 a.m. Let me tell you that most kids your age probably would not have had the maturity or willpower to do what you have done for years. I am sure there were days when you were oh-so-tempted to go to school late.

Once you reached the driving age, you started to have to help Mom and Dad even more. Many a day you lifted my ridiculously heavy wheelchair to save Mom’s back or offered to pull my wheelchair up the driveway after Dad’s long day on his feet at work. You have driven me to appointments for critical tests when Mom and Dad weren’t available and when I could no longer use my legs to drive. For years, I drove you to school, friend’s houses and more, but now the roles have reversed, and you have stepped up in a big way that the average sibling might not have been able to do.

I am most proud of your ability to succeed and move forward even when things aren’t completely right at home. You earn better grades. You have earned a position on your high school’s leadership team and you recently received you EMT – Basic certification, just like your mom, dad and me. I have to tell you that when you woke me up at 11:30 p.m. to show me your certificate and tell me you passed your written and practical state exams, it was one of the proudest days of my life.

I know you always say you are inspired by me, but what I fail to tell you enough is how much I am inspired by your strength, courage, sensitivity and undying hope that someday I’ll get better and run with you in the yard again. I miss that. I would love to be able to toss a lacrosse ball with you to help prepare you for your upcoming season or just throw a baseball around like the old days. Just know one thing: I absolutely cannot wait to see you on the lacrosse field this spring playing your heart out. It will remind me of my soccer- and basketball-playing days, but knowing that you, too, are truly passionate about a sport the way I once was means more to me than you’ll ever know.

If more people possessed your stellar qualities, the world would be a much better place. You will be one of the best doctors in your field when you get older because you will have seen the other side of illness. I know I don’t tell you this nearly enough, but thank you for all of your sacrifices over the years. I love you more than you’ll ever understand. If you need me, I’ll be the one cheering the loudest from the stands at your lacrosse games this spring.

Love you to the moon and back times infinity.

P.S. When my autobiography becomes a New York Times Best Seller, I will give you a 15 percent of the cut of the profits for your “profound” impact in and on my life. I would not be where I am today without you! Until I officially publish the book, this letter will have to serve as your official recognition. Merry Christmas, buddy!

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