I’ve wanted to write this letter to you for so long, but for some reason the perfect words just haven’t come. No words seem like enough and you are so much more than I can express. But I can see you growing up before my very eyes and I have decided that I need to just do my best. I want you to know how full of love and respect for you I am.
So let me tell you a little bit about you. Honestly, I have never known a 5 year old like you; in fact I think you were just born wise. You love play and adventure like any other young child, but your head is way beyond your years. You just have a sincerity I can’t explain, you care deeply about others and emotionally you are way beyond your years. You are so sensitive and I worry about you often because of this. Things other children wouldn’t even think about play deeply on your mind. It can be anything from worrying about me, to a friend feeling sad in school, to something you saw in a movie or fears about things that children shouldn’t be worrying about. You just have a huge heart. You cried just last night because you don’t want to grow up and want to be ‘a kid forever’. It’s really worrying you right now. You were also distraught back last week when you realized the man at our local shop is old and you don’t want him to die. I found you sat on the sofa, holding back your tears and then you broke down. I hate seeing your mind focusing so deeply on your worries, but I know it means you have a huge soul. Your heart is huge Skyler, never lose that.
Do you know you’ve never had a tantrum? Not one single tantrum. I kept waiting for them to start but they never did, although I reckon River is going to make up for that! And you are so much fun; honestly you make me laugh every single day. You also drive me up the wall sometimes but there is never a day that you don’t make me smile. You are clever, so so clever. Trying to get you to write or do any academic stuff just annoys you, but you could listen to facts all day long. Especially if they’re about animals, that’s your biggest passion. You just want to know everything and that is so much more important to me right now. I love your thirst for knowledge.
You are so liked by everyone who meets you, it’s just so easy to like you and you like everyone in return. You love fiercely and you are also extremely confident in yourself. Your determination to have pink as your favorite color whatever any of you school friends said is proof of that! You were laughed at once and the very next day you waltzed into school proudly wearing your pink t shirt. You were never laughed at for that again. Sharing comes so easily to you and you are kind, generous, confident, gentle, understanding, patient and loving. You are my first born son and I adore you.
I often worry that by showing River to the world and sharing his life so much, that people may think you are left on the sidelines. I worry that people may feel that River is favored, or that he gets all of my attention and you’re left out. I know that it couldn’t be further from the truth. You are both always right by my side and you are both my whole world. I know that you feel that. I also know that there is no resentment from you towards River and that you adore him, even when you want to ‘throw him in the bin’! The way that you look at your brother just melts me and I could never have asked for more from you. You celebrate every achievement he ever makes, are his biggest supporter and you are so proud of him. You have a beautiful bond and I truly hope you never lose that.
We’ve always been honest with you about River having Down syndrome. We know you and it was always the right way to handle it, we knew you could handle it. You were only 3 years old when we discovered River had Ds and you were our rock, you just seemed to show us that everything was going to be just fine. Honestly believe that you are a huge part of the reason why River’s diagnosis just wasn’t that difficult for us to accept and I will never be able to thank you enough for that. I know a lot of people choose not to tell siblings about Down syndrome, but actually it never even crossed our minds not to. It’s not because we wanted you to see River as ‘different’, in your mind he is just River. I just want you to grow up understanding that being different is ok. I want you to be a man who embraces differences and doesn’t fear them. I want you to be a man who treats everyone with respect and kindness, whoever they are and whatever makes them stand out from the crowd. I just know you’ll be a light in this pretty dark world, you already are.
You are the perfect brother for River and I am thankful that he has you every single day. Many people feel sorry for siblings of a child with learning disabilities, but I feel the total opposite when I look at you. You do so much for your brother and I know you will have such a positive influence on his life, but at the same time he is helping to shape you to. He is helping to shape you into a brilliant person, who is patient, accepting and kind. I know you will always be his defender and I know he will always look at you with pure love. I am so proud of both of you I could burst.
So what do I want for your life? Well I want whatever you want, that’s it really. I want you to be happy. I want you to find someone that you love and love them completely. I want you to find a passion and follow it completely. I want you to work hard at whatever educational and career path you choose, although whatever you choose is fine with me. I want you to do what you love, and live a fulfilling life. I don’t care about status, salary or material things. Those things are fantastic and I hope you get everything you desire, but they are a bonus. Never let anyone tell you what to do, listen to advice but always make your own choices. If you can learn one thing from me I hope it’s that, do whatever you choose to do and don’t let anyone hold you back, whoever they are. Even if that person is me. Most of all I want you to be content. I want you to wake up smiling and go to bed smiling. If you are kind, loyal, ambitious, determined, honest, faithful, loving, accepting and humble, then good things will find you. And brave, don’t forget to be brave and take risks. Take chances and be daring, life’s too short not to.
Never ever doubt the love me and Baba have for you, we couldn’t be more proud if we tried. We love you Skyler.