The Effect on Abi’s Sister
Abi’s sister, Kara, is also an extremely happy, well-adjusted young lady. Just like her sister, she’s doing well at school and making lots of new friends. In fact, both girls light up the lives of all those who cross their path, and I’m blessed to have them entrusted to my care. I love them dearly.
Despite their mother and I getting divorced, they have had a happy upbringing. However, I’m convinced that our separation is partly the reason that the girls are so close. In difficult times, they have always been able to fall back on each other.
Of course, like many sisters, the bond that holds Kara and Abi so close, sometimes needs nurturing. I am careful not to underestimate the effect of Abi’s illness upon Kara. Even if she has not yet managed to grasp the full extent of her sister’s condition, I am conscious that she too must have experienced some emotional turmoil. There have been many times when Abi has necessarily had much more of my attention, but I have been careful to give some of that time back to Kara. When Abi was first rushed to the hospital for surgery, during the summer holidays of 2009, Abi’s mother and I were constantly at her bedside. Kara was looked after by her maternal grandma, but she would visit daily and as soon as she arrived I would make sure that she and I spent quality time together. We would go straight to the park and then watch the Parakeets squabble in the trees. I also appreciated those times because the playground gave me some respite from Abi’s illness. What’s more, Kara’s beautifully playful spirit helped lift my mood enormously. I think that ensured Kara was not jealous of all the attention that was given to her sister
Having experienced the benefit of having Kara around during Abi’s first hospital stay, I also wanted to have her around when Abi went into the hospital the second time. I thought it would help Abi’s convalescence because the girls were so close. Unfortunately, it proved a bad idea. Sure, having her sister at the hospital helped Abi, but by the end of the week, poor Kara was going a little stir crazy and had suffered a few too many rebuttals from a daddy with frayed nerves. On that occasion, it was a mistake to burden her.
But if I needed any more proof that Abi’s illness had taken its toll on Kara, it came when we were walking back to the car one day: “Daddy, I’m having nightmares,” she told me. “What are they about, darling?” I asked. A look of fear crossed her face: “Abi dies from the ball in her head, daddy,” she told me. It took me a while to regain my composure after that revelation. However, I gave it some thought on the drive home and realised that I couldn’t just ignore Kara’s worry. I decided that we should bring Abi’s illness fully into our awareness by meditating on healing the ball in her head. I’m no psychologist, but my intuition told me that it was the right thing to do. My thinking was it would prevent the weight of it all overcoming Kara. So when we got home, we spent a few minutes sitting quietly and concentrating on good health for the whole family. We do that regularly now. Moreover, we often talk about Abi’s illness. I’m confident it helps us all enormously. But especially Kara, who no longer has to cope alone with all her worries about her sister.