Dear mom and dad,
You didn’t just raise me as your daughter with a disability. You saw much more from the beginning.
I was your fourth child. In your eyes, I have always been “normal.”
You were the first to teach me determination. Giving up was not an option. We didn’t focus on disability or discuss how my limitations affected me. We lived life. We carried on, year after year, figuring it out along the way.
Sometimes I have wondered, should we have talked more in my childhood? Should I have asked questions? But what was there to ask? I knew I was loved. I knew my brothers had always accepted me as their sister. At the time, that was enough and I didn’t have questions yet.
You enabled me in my childhood, and I don’t mean enabled in the negative sense. You made things possible then and you empower me now. You want me to be independent and do as much as I can. But I need help and you willingly give it.
From your example, I have learned strength and confidence. And what it means to sacrifice and love in tangible ways.
As an adult in my thirties, I still live at home. I can fear, am I holding you back from doing things or going places without me? Would your life look different if I didn’t live with you?
You love me so well. Loving can mean letting go and letting my friends in. I can’t imagine how hard this is for you. Every time you do, you give me the freedom and independence that I need.
Sometimes I stay out late. I usually call you with an update of where I’m going or what time I’ll be home. Because a late night for me equals a late night for you. I can’t jump in bed by myself. So you rest or wait up for me. Recently you told me, “I knew you’d come home eventually.” Those few words spoke of the trust you have in me and my friends. It was such a simple comment, but it meant a lot.
You can rest in the fact that my friends do not hesitate to help because they love me. The next time they ask, “what can I do? How can I help? I’m happy to do that,” please say, “yes” and “thank you.” In my heart, there is plenty I wish I could do without needing help myself. When we let friends in, it can feel like I am helping you. Others can be my hands so that I can give back to you.
You have given to me all these years. A thank you isn’t always enough. But I’m thankful to be your daughter. Period.