Siblings have their ups and downs. Of that there is no question. My oldest daughter was the most overprotective big sister in the universe when my youngest was born. It was funny to see, she would practically tear apart a doctor or nurse approaching her sister. Then came a day of reckoning as it were.
My youngest had caught a nasty virus which caused a pneumonia that forced her lungs to fill up with fluid . A rush trip to the emergency proved the right thing to do as she was starting to have real trouble breathing by the time we got there. Despite everyone's best efforts within a few short hours her lungs were collapsing. Intubation was the only resort -and once intubated and heavily medicated into a medical coma, this state lasted over 20 days.
My oldest was in kindergarten and as my wife and I tried to have a semblance of normalcy for her , we took shifts in staying at the hospital and staying at home and getting my oldest off to school. When we figured out that we were in this for the much longer duration we decided that our oldest needed to visit and see her sister, despite all the tubes, IV drips central lines etc.
One of the nurses suggested that they take a polaroid so that we could explain everything to her first so that it's not a shock when she gets to the hospital. They did and we brought it home and explained everything.
So far so good, our oldest stoically took in all the info and seemed to process it quite well. That is until she asked if she could take the picture to school and show her teacher - she had explained this to her teacher and like we did with her she was eager to share with her teacher her newfound knowledge.
This is when the first shift occured, another child in the class looked at the photo and quite matter of factly said "She looks like she's dead, is she dead"
For a while after that incident, everytime my oldest heard an ambulance, she thought it was for her sister.
I think the distance was a method she used to protect herself.
Not long after our youngest's stay in the ICU , extended family of ours had a child that had died due to complications and Cerebral Palsy that not only further reinforced the fragility of life but for her the distance she must have felt necessary to protect herself from those feelings.
Fast forward a few years slowly we might be returning to that relationship that they should have had. I hope for her that she does.
My youngest has a gift to give , that gift is love, no strings, no ego , just love.
How can you say no, even if it is ephemeral ?