The first time she saw Elin, on ICU and just two days old, Elin stopped breathing. A Nurse began to bag oxygen into her. People were yelling, Caitlin was ushered out of the room. What a terrible experience for a 10 year old the first time she meets her baby sister. It occurs to me that it wasn't just our hopes and dreams that were in tatters in those first few days. It wasn't only us that was scared, devastated and loosing a grip with each passing day on the child we had thought we might be welcoming into our home. The future was unknown and with each diagnosis and test result came a certainty that this was going to be no ordinary experience. No ordinary little sister.
But it turned out Caitlin was made of strong stuff just like Elin. Caitlin did not once react negatively to the situation. She never complained about anything- the constant crying poor Elin did, the way our lives were all turned upside down in those first few months, the lost hopes she may have had for a younger sibling or the stress she must clearly have witnessed us both under. She told people her sister had 'several palsies' , pointed out that the paralympics were on T.V at the time and plenty of the competitors had 'several palsies' too. She thought Elin might be good at the special cycling when she got older. She held her and kissed her and talked to her and took photo's of her. She told her she loved her and read her stories. She told her she was the best little sister ever. She never felt sorry for herself or us and never shed a tear (not in front of us anyway). This was an attitude of complete positivity that took her Dad and I a little longer to adopt. Maybe ignorance is bliss, maybe we knew too much. But the truth is she had it right from the start. Caitlin has always been wise beyond her years and the simplicity of acceptance came much easier to her 10 year old self than it did to us. She showed us the way. I have always been proud of Caitlin, but never more so than since her sister was born and seeing the young lady she has become. She is unwaveringly and fiercely protective of Elin and though I have to concede the situation must hurt, despite her positivity, she has never once wallowed in it or used Elin's condition as an excuse for anything. Being a teenager can be difficult and confusing at the best of times. But Caitlin has been nothing but absolutely gracious and supportive in light of Elin's birth, no mean feat when you are growing up yourself and trying to deal with your hormones going crazy. Of course, she has been rewarded with Elin's complete adoration- she is without a doubt Elin's favourite person in the whole world, her face visibly lights up when she hears her voice! So Happy 16th Birthday to the most mature teenager I know, Elin is so lucky to have you , though I know you see it the other way around. That's what makes you so special. Everyone talks about Elin being a miracle and one in a million, but we know where she gets it from. The best big sister in the world.