Say hello to Toni

My name is Naomi and I am writing about my little sister Toni. Toni is not so little any more as she is 22 but to me she will always be my little sister.

I was 7 years old when Toni was born and I was excited to be getting a little sister to run around and play with. Toni was born with a disability which meant that she wouldn’t be able to run around with me. It also meant that she would get poorly very quickly and had to spend lots of time in hospital. Toni being in hospital also meant that my mum and dad had to spend lots of time away from me as they had to be in hospital to look after Toni.

My sister Toni and I have a different kind of relationship to the one I could ever have imagined when I was 7 and expecting a sister just like me. Although Toni cannot walk or talk she does just as much as anybody else with me. She comes shopping with me, to the cinema and bowling and she also goes out with a carer and has more fun than I do most of the time! Toni can always make me smile no matter how bad my day has been or how upset I am. One smile from my beautiful little sister can melt my heart and make me feel a million times better. Toni has brought so many experiences and opportunities into my life but it has not always been easy. Although life has been difficult at times with Toni having her disability and various health problems I would not want anybody else as my sister because the love that I have for her could not be bought by any amount of money. Having Toni in my life is an absolute honour and I can only hope that she is as proud of me as I am of her. She has opened my eyes to the different people that live in this world and I will always be grateful that she is a part of my life.

toniBluebell Wood has provided some excellent opportunities and experiences for my family. From providing respite care for Toni so that I can do things with my mum and dad whilst knowing that Toni is in very safe hands and probably having just as much (if not more) fun than we are, to giving us the quality time we quite often lack as a family in a more therapeutic and relaxing environment knowing that we can relax and have fun rather than worry about the next task that needs completing to ensure Toni’s care needs are met. The hospice has also opened many experiences for our family, be it offering us family days out courtesy of donations or by giving us information on places to visit that will cater for Toni’s needs which can be difficult to find.

When Toni first started going to Bluebell Wood I was a little bit hesitant as I held the stereotypical belief that a hospice is a place for terminally ill nearing the end of their life so the idea that Toni would be going to a hospice scared me slightly. The idea that a hospice could be a place full of fun, laughter and happiness was a little bit bizarre for me to accept initially, however, once I stepped through the front door I realised just how far from reality my stereotypical beliefs were! The staff at Bluebell Wood have always been welcoming and they always have the time to spend with us, they know about our family and always take the time to ask after all of our welfares, not just Toni’s proving that they care about us all as a family.

Before Bluebell Wood opened it was difficult to find somewhere that Toni was happy to go to and we as a family felt comfortable with to allow us some time to recuperate and spend that quality time together. From the small things to the bigger experiences Bluebell Wood really has been a gift to our family and without its help and support we would have missed out on so many laughs and memories with Toni. The hospice is a truly inspirational place and the team there make exceptional efforts to ensure that the precious gift of life is made that little bit more special for all concerned.