“A sister just like you, I just want to let you know you mean the world to me. Only a heart as dear as yours would give so unselfishly. The many things you’ve done, all the times that you were there. Help me know deep down inside, how much you really care. Even though I might not say, I appreciate all you do. Richly blessed is how I feel, having a sister just like you.”Unknown
My name is Courtney, and for those of you who don’t know who I am, I am Lauren’s baby sister. We are 5 years apart in age, but if you knew us at all, most people think we are twins. We do pretty much everything together, and be prepared for my long list of things haha. We share mutual friends, and if we don’t yet, we crash each other’s plans to become friends with them. We both went to school together, worked at Bakers Delight, went to the same dance school, go to the same gym and the list actually goes on and on. Not to mention Lauren has a slight shopping addiction that she has passed on to me, so when our days don’t consist of constantly finding a new brunch spot it will most likely include some form of shopping even when we are both meant to be saving.. sorry dad.
Growing up, I looked up to my big sister so much in so many different ways. She always looked after me, made mum dress us in the same clothes and never stopped bossing me around! Everyone’s family is different, and mine is no exception, but when I say we are close I mean it. We are in each other’s business and love to know where we all are. I’m lucky enough not only to be close with Lauren but with my brother Joel too. With him travelling a lot for basketball, not only did it bring us closer but it brought Lauren and I closer to. I truly mean it when I say she is my best friend, and I’d be lost without her. The only thing we would ever fight about would be clothes, and it’s normally just about who gets to wear the pretty outfit first. Not going to lie, the day she moves out and we have to somehow split up the clothes, we are both screwed. I think the only solution would be for me just to come along too.
So, imagine our relationship, my sister and best friend
And imagine being told what I was told over a year ago..
Imagine your heart dropping straight to the floor in shock about what I just heard.
In all honesty, I didn’t really understand what had really happened. I was out all day at University, and my family didn’t want to scare me straight away so I was told a little later once they had more information. All I can remember was finding out Lauren hit her head and had gone to the hospital but is home now and resting. I was very confused, had no idea how it had happened, and all I wanted to do was just see my sister. That night was full of emotion and confusion, but she was home and not in hospital so I was hoping that was a good sign. At first, I thought it was normal for a concussion recovery, we all thought what she was going through was normal, and she would be back to herself in no time. She didn’t get out of bed for days, but then that turned into weeks. When I say she couldn’t get out of bed, I don’t mean she was sitting up pretty watching movies all day. She couldn’t talk or really even look at me. It was horrible. But these weeks became too long, the pain didn’t seem to get much better and I felt my sister slowly slipping through my hands.
Sounds dramatic? If you were in my shoes you’d say the exact same thing. I didn’t like seeing her like that but it wasn’t about me, it was about her and I knew I had to be there for her. She slowly got better and we started to see some improvement. She was getting out of bed more, started talking again and was able to join in on short conversations and was beginning to see so many different specialists it was amazing. But I have one memory that will never leave my head, and it was the day I took Lauren to one of her appointments. I stayed in the car and waited for her to finish so I could take her home.
She got in the car and just started to cry.
She went from training in the gym every single day, to coming out crying after the session as she couldn’t walk on the treadmill for 5 minutes. I’ve never seen her so upset, and I hadn’t realised how much this injury had affected her until now. This wasn’t just a hit to the head, it changed her life and I think this was the first time we both realised just how much. I didn’t know what to do. I tried my hardest not to break down in tears with her.
All I could do was hold her hand and take her home.
Over a year later and here we are. She has made lots of improvements along the way and I’m so proud of her, but still struggles on a daily basis. I can see it in her eyes. She no longer goes to work, doesn’t sleep very much, sees so many specialists on the daily and does private PT sessions to help regain her strength as well as pilates. I never would have thought this is how it would turn out. It affects her physically and mentally, and while it’s a big life changing experience for her and my whole family, there is always a positive you must look for, you have to look for it. But I’ve got to admit, some days I find it hard to see the positive.
I get scared sometimes. I’ve gone from doing everything with my sister, to very minimal. I no longer dance because I can’t and don’t want to do it without her, every birthday and event where people want to go to town or dance she can’t come with me, we can’t go to the movies together because the screen is too big and makes her feel sick. Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost my best friend. However, that’s a very selfish outlook.
I shouldn’t be upset I can’t do those things with her, but help her when she needs me most and do other activities that she can do successfully when she’s feeling well. We go for walks, have movie nights at home, go out for brunch and online shop instead of going to the big overwhelming malls haha. When your best friend is struggling, it can be very upsetting for me, but that won’t help the situation. So, instead I make a promise to you Lauren, to sit next to you at home and watch tv, to lay by your side when you’re too tired to go anywhere, and to give you hope to keep fighting when you’re having a bad day and just want to give up.
I am so so proud of my sister and how every day she tries her absolute hardest to keep fighting. The Orange Butterfly is a way she expresses herself and helps those suffering around her. It’s amazing how many people have seen and read her blogs, all the messages she receives from strangers and how it helps them going through a similar battle. I know writing and helping others is her passion now, and I hope she can continue with The Orange Butterfly and raise awareness for others living with a Brain Injury. While I’m unsure of what her future holds, I do know that I’ll be there every step of the way no matter what.
I am the first to say this hasn’t been easy on anyone, not Lauren, her family or friends. I definitely struggle some days and get mad at her. I feel like sometimes I push her away because it’s easier to not ask, then to ask and find out she’s struggling and feel completely helpless. But, if there is one thing I have learnt, it’s to just be there. I know all of Lauren’s friends, and I thank the ones that have stood by her through the pain, even though she may not always show the love back at times.
This is a reminder for everyone out there who loves someone that is suffering from a Brain Injury. Sometimes they can’t control their emotions, sometimes they can’t express how they are feeling, and sometimes they just need someone to be there. No matter how much you think they don’t need your help and support, I ask you to send a message, to give them a hug or just lay by their side and give them your company. It will make such difference to their life.
While everyone may seem okay on the outside, everyone has their own battle they are struggling with no matter how strong everyone seems.
I love you Lauren!
Spread love and kindness!
“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing YOU can be”Maya Angelou