The Forgotten Siblings

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As most of you know, Olivia is a twin. Her brother Wyatt was born exactly one minute before her and he has taken on the big brother role ever since. Their bond formed immediately, long before they left my womb. During our 20 week ultrasound we saw Wyatt kicking around like a wild man and Olivia holding on to his leg as if she was saying “relax, brother.” This was exactly how their relationship was for the 20 months they had together on this earth. Wyatt was wild and outgoing. Olivia was a soft spirit and incredibly calm. Nothing fazed her.

After Olivia got cancer, Wyatt became her protector. He seemed to know instantly that his sister was sick and he needed to care for her. We never could’ve expected this from such a young child. He would bring her toys, hold her hand, bring her a pacifier, push her around the room in a walker so she could get around, and cheer her on. It was truly amazing to watch! And Olivia adored her brother.

There are several moments in their journey together that stick out to me. One is captured in the picture above. Olivia had lost her eyesight completely from the cancer in her brain that had wrapped around the optic nerve. She couldn’t see any of us. This picture captured the time she first got to really see her brother after her eyesight began to come back as the tumor shrank. They just stared at each other in awe. It was such a beautiful moment.

Another occurred during the last month of Olivia’s life. She was in the hospital for a week after her infantile spasms came back. She and Wyatt hadn’t gotten to see each other much during her stay and the moment they were reunited at home, Wyatt threw himself on top of her in a huge embrace. He was so happy to be back with his sister.

Their bond was amazing. In fact, Wyatt was so bonded to his sister that the moment she passed away, he cried out from his bedroom where he was sleeping. And he has not looked for her once since then. He talks about her. He blows kisses to pictures of her. But he knows she’s gone.

Although Wyatt loves his sister tremendously, he took a back seat during her life. Olivia needed a lot of care and required most of our attention. We doted on Wyatt too, but as any parent with a sick child can attest, it is different and the siblings are somewhat neglected. Wyatt had to become accustomed to waiting for attention. He learned that Olivia needed more than him and that meant sitting to the side. It was hard. There were times that he would cry for attention. He would crave being held but couldn’t be because Olivia needed us then. He would look so sad when he left the hospital room with his grandparents while we spent another night there without him. It was truly heartbreaking. I would spend nights crying because I felt so torn. I wanted to give Olivia everything and I worried about how this was affecting Wyatt. Did he know how very much we love him too?

In order to make sure Wyatt could see how much we adored him, we would try to make special time for him whenever possible. Most of the time that was as simple as setting aside quiet time to read to him alone. Or one of us would take him with us to run errands so that he could get some quality time. It wasn’t much, but it was all that we could do. Cancer is a full time battle. It takes up everything in every single person in your family. Relationships are tested and many don’t survive. Siblings can become angry or resentful despite their deep love for their brother or sister. Cancer can destroy everything!

My advice to any parent going through a serious illness with one of their children (whether it is cancer or not) is to make the most of your time with all of your kids. Give your everything but know that it is normal to feel exhausted. It’s okay that you aren’t super mom or dad. Your kids will love you if you love them. All you can do is your best.

There are a few ways to donate to the Olivia Caldwell Foundation. You can mail a check to Olivia Caldwell Foundation P.O. Box 1112 Rawlins, WY 82301. You can donate to our bank account by visiting any U.S. Bank branch and asking to donate to the Olivia Caldwell Foundation #147490735163. Or by clicking on this link to donate now via GoFundMe: http://www.gofundme.com/5j5h4w Every penny donated goes directly to pediatric brain cancer research to find a cure.

73 thoughts on “The Forgotten Siblings

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  1. Such insightful and inspiring words from one who has been through the fires of pain and adversity! May God bless you and your family from this day forward, and may memories of Olivia help to soothe you. You are loved by the Heavenly Father who welcomed Olivia into her new home. May you find eternal peace in Him and may the reason for this blessed Christmas season, The Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, live in your hearts and souls.

  2. Blessings! I was so deeply touched by your story. I have lost too many loved ones to cancer. But I cannot imagine the desperation one must feel when it’s your child. I will pass the information on to everyone I know. Peace and love to you and your family.

  3. I was truly touched by this. I admire your strength and the strength of your son. It’s crazy how much he understood at such a young age.

  4. Your powerful words hit home to the siblings that were the healthy ones so many years ago. I lost both my infant twin brothers when I was only six. I am thankful for parents you and like mine that do their best in such difficult situations. I wish you and your family the best of luck and you are always in my prayers.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story with all of us. I am a storyteller and I have been to several hospitals taking care of kids with cancer to tell children’s stories with a hope that even for a few minutes, I would be able to help them ease the pain they feel. It is really heartbreaking to see kids in pain and all you can do is share with them a bit of your time. But your post showed us more that what we see in the hospitals when we visit kids with illness. You showed us how it goes in ones house with a kid suffering from cancer. You showed us a reality and a beautiful story where every family can learn a lot from in terms of dealing this kind of situation. Wyatt is really adorable. May God bless your family more and more!

  6. Thanks for writing this lovely love story, your children must feel much love from you and each other, it’s the way illness can take over lives, but be put to one side at least for a moment and families and friends can still appreciate each other.

  7. Thanks for writing this lovely love story, your children must feel much love from you and each other, it’s the way illness can take over lives, but be put to one side at least for a moment and families and friends can still appreciate each other.

  8. This is so touching and am sad about Olivia. Sorry that Wyatt had to lose his precious sister. Am hoping that some cure is found soon – my small contribution to the fund. Thank you for sharing something so wonderful yet so personal with us and am sending my prayers too.

  9. This was an incredible story. This week another sweet child died of cancer, Superman Sam and his mother also blogged about his journey. It seems like we are so close and yet so far from finding a cure. It isn’t fair that your son should be without his best friend or Sam’s family without him. We will keep donating and doing what we can to help find a cure.

  10. I understand the pain of going through cancer. My grandson Michael had it at the age of two. It was brain cancer. I wrote a blog on it titled Cancer and the Miracle. Michael survived it, he is now thirteen. He had six chemos and stem cell work done. I wish you the best.

  11. I am so sorry for the pain and loss of Olivia 😦 the picture is heart breaking, so is the story. No one should go through such intense events. God bless you and Wyatt, lots of health and luck to all of you.

  12. It’s so emotional to hear this story and a good advice for parents who are going through the same. Cancer needed support from all us to help the charities who do research in the field and help those who are unfortunately going through this. If you are based in London get in touch with our Fostering team who are doing the same sort of service in the area. For information visit :www.sunbeamfostering.com

  13. What a touching story…such a special & powerful bond Wyatt and Olivia shared. Be sure to remember those moments and always keep those times close to your heart. ❤ Thank you for sharing.

  14. I wonder if you’ve heard of the Ronan Thompson Foundation? Their blog is called Rockstar Ronan and is another tragic blog about childhood cancer. I’m so sorry for your loss, God bless.

  15. Beautiful post. I teared up. They are both beautiful children. Only God knows why He allows those things to happen. But one this is for sure, she is sitting on His lap right now as we speak. You will all see her again. 😀

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