Sunday 17 December 2017

She's the sister we will never know

'I said Mary would be a great sister and would always be there for her'
'I said Mary would be a great sister and would always be there for her'
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

I was summoned up to the elder one. She was in bed, crying. She told me she wished she didn't have a sister with special needs. She told me she loved Mary but she just wished sometimes that she didn't have special needs.

"I just wish for one day she didn't have it," she sobbed, "that I just knew what it was like. Just for one day. But I'll never know what it's like."

It was a thought I hadn't allowed myself to have for a long time. It was never a thought I hugely dwelt on. I generally don't bother wondering what if, or imagining some other life we could have had or the other person Mary could have been, because she's not. And as the elder one points out, it's never going to happen. We are never going to know what that other Mary might have been like. So I guess you focus on the Mary we have. And we love her. And she can be very challenging. And sometimes you see another kid her age and you realise the gulf that is opening up. But I just don't allow myself to go there. You can't compare. You'd be too angry and too upset. And you can't think about how much easier so many things would be if she was different. You change your life in all these incremental ways, and you try not to notice. Because there's no point. And anyway this is the only life we have now. And if there's one thing that I notice more and more as I go along in life, it's that bitterness is the most corrosive thing in people as they get older.

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