Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

My Sister's Keeper

As told to Rhona Lewis

Last year, when my 17-year-old sister came home from her first meeting with a top psychiatrist, I became her keeper.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

heart with keyI suppose that Ahuvi has always been a little different; we just didn’t worry about it. Socially awkward and academically weak, she could never quite find her place in her peer group. But at home it was different. As the youngest in our large family, she got a lot of love and spoiling from all of us and we expected that to make up for the rejection she faced in school.

Once I was married and became a mother myself, I knew that I could rely on Ahuvi to babysit for my children. As the other siblings married, they also handed over nephews and nieces to Ahuvi. She had endless patience for colicky babies, even waking up at night to take over whenever we spent Shabbos back at home. As the babies grew older, she began organizing little camps for them. Ahuvi was also my mother’s right hand, helping to shop, cook, and clean for the Shabbos get-togethers that my mother organized regularly to keep the family close. At home, Ahuvi was a star.

Then things changed. She was already 17 when our mother gave birth to twins. It was a terribly complicated birth and it left my mother drained and weak; it would take months for her to fully recover. Our home changed from being a hub of activity to a hushed nursery where either one of the twins or my mother was always resting. Ahuvi lost her revered status as family babysitter and Shabbos coordinator.

Add to this the enormous pressure of exams — which she had little chance of succeeding in — and acceptance into seminary for the following year, and you can well imagine that even the strongest among us would begin to quake. When Ahuvi came back from winter camp, a two-day sleepover that was supposed to be the highlight of the winter semester, my mother knew something had gone terribly wrong. Patient and gentle Ahuvi had been replaced by an angry monster who spent much of her day crying and yelling that no one cared about her.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Weekly Struggle
Shoshana Friedman Cover text: promise big and deliver what we promise
Only Through You
Rabbi Moshe Grylak A response to last week’s letter, “Waiting in Passaic”
Are You Making a Kiddush Hashem?
Yonoson Rosenblum In communal affairs, “one bad apple…” often applies
Chance of a Lifetime
Eytan Kobre I identify with the urge to shout, “No, don’t do it!”
Work / Life Solutions with Bunim Laskin
Moe Mernick "You only get every day once"
Seeking a Truly Meaningful Blessing
Dovid Zaidman We want to get married. Help us want to date
Shivah Meditations
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Equivalence between two such polar opposites is puzzling
Magnet Moment
Jacob L. Freedman Everyone’s fighting a battle we know nothing about
Secrets and Surprises
Riki Goldstein Top-secret suits Eli Gerstner just fine
Blasts of Warmth
Riki Goldstein Keeping the chuppah music upbeat in low temperatures
Behind the Scenes
Faigy Peritzman The intrinsic value of each mitzvah
Good Vision
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Good or bad, nice or not? What you see is what you get
Day of Peace
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz On Shabbos we celebrate peace within and without