An open letter to your sick sibling

My dear sibling, I write because there’s something I need to put square between us. You see, we share so much – genetics, parents, upbringing. Out of all the people in the world, I am most like you. However much we may differ in temperament and character, our blood binds us together.

To my sick sibling,

Illness will always be something between us,

Yet there’s one thing we do not share. You are sick and I am not. You struggle with your health and it will always be something you think about, whereas my life is not like that. You have doctors’ appointments and medication and a whole world into which I can never enter fully.

I wonder, sometimes, how this makes you feel. Do you ever feel guilty when you get attention, or when people tell you how brave you are? Do you ever feel jealous of me? Do you ever look at me and wish we could swap lives, swap bodies, swap trials?

Do you ever want to strangle me, because I can be carefree and you must be responsible? Or do you ever hate yourself because you look at me and feel weak and needy in comparison?

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A letter to the parents who are chronically ill (You are not a failure)

“You are not your illness.”

Dear Parent with a chronic illness,

You don’t have to say it aloud. I’ve read it in your sighs, your looks, your actions.

The confession.

The apology.

My sickness has damaged the happiness of my child.

I, who brought them into the world, who had all these plans, these hopes – have been able to do one percent of all I dreamed.

I wasn’t the one to bake with them, to take them to the beach, to bushwalk, to laugh – someone else did these things, and sometimes, no one did them.
A

m I a failure?
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