Dear sibling to a child with “specialties”: Let me tell you why you’re amazing….


Written by: Katie Corkern


Hey there little friend,

I heard you are the sibling to a child with “specialties” and I wanted to write you a letter explaining why you have a one up on life.  I know your life might seem hard or different from your friends, but trust me you most definitely will be more prepared for this life than anyone else walking around this big ole Earth.  Let me explain…

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I heard that you deal with more than any child should, like having your parents spend a lot of time away from you.  You know they are taking care of your sibling, possibly bringing him or her to the doctor, maybe your sibling is admitted in the hospital often, they might be on the phone taking care of insurance business, or even physically caring for your sibling constantly.  I know my friend.  You see these happenings more often than not.  You see the love that your parents have for your special sibling and it is being embedded into your heart.  You see the patience they exhibit when caring for him or her and it is being buried into your soul.  You see that your parents never stop trying to get what your sibling needs and it is being ingrained into your mind.  You see your parents exhaust themselves making sure that your sibling and you are well taken care of and loved and you are learning from this.  You may not know it, but all of these “little” things are teaching you traits of how to be an amazing person.

I’m certain that being the sibling to a child with different needs than most is a struggle.  I know you have those moments where your heart stings with jealousy, where you are worried sick over your sibling, or when you get mad because you can’t go to all the birthday parties you want to.  All of those times are totally understandable.  You have a right to be upset every now and then, but I can bet that you can think of some pretty cool things that you have in your household that your friends don’t.  How about all the cool equipment your sibling has? Huh?  I know you’ve climbed into that wheelchair or played with his super cool assistive technology toys!  How about getting to see your sibling reach a milestone and that proud feeling that overcomes your body?   You get to experience a friendship that is like no other.  Your sibling completely and utterly trusts and loves you with a love that can penetrate the coldest heart.  They look at you with those beautiful eyes and know that you are there for them no matter what.  The bond you have is indescribable.  You are their sibling, their friend, and their protector.  Your sibling might not be able to speak verbally, but we both know that your hearts together carry on conversations that us adults could never possibly understand.  And I tell you what, we are so extremely jealous.

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Did you know that your parents watch you and your siblings interactions on a daily basis and their heart literally wants to burst out of their body with pride and love?  They see everything you do for your brother or sister.  They notice when you walk by and give them a quick kiss, stroke their hair, or give them a hello.  Your mom and dad love to witness you sticking up for your special sibling, or when you go out of your way to make sure he or she is included in everything. They quietly observe you as you help with therapies, put oxygen masks back in place, hold their hand during tests or doctor visits, or wipe their innocent little face.  Your parents recognize every time you perch yourself on the counter to help make medicines or bring them a diaper, a syringe, or whatever else they are calling out to you!  You do such a crazy amazing job helping your parents.  It surely takes a wonderful little boy or girl to do what you do on a daily basis.  I’m sure they tell you thank you, but sometimes if they don’t just know THEY ARE BEYOND THANKFUL FOR YOU!

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But most important of all, my dear one, the reason you are going to ROCK this life- you know true love, you know true heart ache, and you know what is truly important.  You have lived a life that takes a strong heart and a strong mind.  You will mature much faster than your schoolmates (don’t be too hard on them), you’ll exhibit compassion that astounds others, you’ll know more about healthcare than 95% of adults you pass on the street, and you will most definitely have a wicked sense of humor that will enable you to keep life joyful no matter what!  When you were introduced to your sibling with complex needs for the very first time, that moment in time is pinned in the stars, for it was then that your destiny was determined.  You will be an awesome human being and you are going to change lives for the better….all because you were the sibling of a child with specialties.  Rock on my brave friend!

All my love,

the momma of a child like you and your special sibling

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14 Responses to “Dear sibling to a child with “specialties”: Let me tell you why you’re amazing….”

  1. Shellie Says:

    Amazing kids, amazing mom and dad!!

  2. Heather Jenkins Says:

    Katie, you always hit the nail on the head. When it’s time for these kids to parent, what a wonderful, amazing thing to see. And their spouses?? So lucky!!

  3. Rachael Donahue Says:

    So eloquently written Katie. One of my siblings was and still is health challenged. Growing up with her has def made me who i am today. You have a special gift of reaching people and explaining…while never cpimplaining….of your journey with your Connor Man.God’s continued blessings to you and your family Katie!!

  4. Denise Clement Prestenbach Says:

    Excellent article! As an older sibling to a very special sister, your words hit home. They are also very true. I think that our family is so close because of her. Our blessing turned 46 this past September.

  5. Sharon Pletcher Says:

    Grandma’s here weeping following your touching post. I get it, I’ve gotten it. Our special needs Grandson beautiful Brady has forever changed my life for the better. I am a better person because of him. Thank you for your compassionate post…..I hear you, I understand, I agree. God bless you and yours.
    Sharon

  6. Vivi Says:

    Thank you, it was very beautiful. I will give this to my kids to read.

  7. Tahnee Matthews Says:

    This is absolutely beautiful. I’m in tears. This will be printed & given to my sweet boy Eli, sibling to my other sweet boy David, who was severely injured 5 years ago while riding his bike. He took on a car & won! What a journey we have been on ever since! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing!

  8. Jackie Says:

    what a lovely letter I’ve read this to my daughter thank you x

  9. MARYANN Says:

    This is so true and warmed my heart with how much it shows the truth
    My older daughter loved her sister from her getting snuck into laundry door in “NICU”=she was only 4 1/2 yrs old and that is a memory she holds dear to her
    She also got inspired and became an “Occupational Therapist” working with kids and does show oh so much compassioon
    Your message just rings loud & clear
    Thank You From A Devoted Mom
    To Both Her Daughters

  10. Kathy Says:

    what a wonderful statement. I have a special needs son with a younger brother and they are amazing together. Thank You for sharing a wonderful thought!

  11. Toni McKnight -Adams Says:

    Amazing, Thanks for sharing

  12. Kim Says:

    In response to a FB post (mommies of Miracles)……Dear siblings to a child with “specialties” It is like you took the words from my mind, the feelings from my heart and the knowledge of my soul. My best friend is the sibling of a child with specialties and I remember on her wedding day her dad thanking me for he felt she had turned into this beautiful person in part because of something I had done, at the time I cried and felt proud for the compliment but also confused because although I liked to think that our unique friendship and the unconditional love we had for one another played a part in her being who she was I knew there was much more to it. we had grown up together never sure weather to call her my cousin or best friend not sure what title meant more, I always felt sorry for her because she had so many responsibilities far greater then anyone I knew our age. Always amazed how that I grew to understand what her sister was trying to communicate without words, even more amazed at how much of an expert my best friend was at this communication, “she just knew” was always her answer when asked. When I became a parent to a healthy little girl I soon realized how much my best friend /cousin and her amazing little sister/my cousin/my friend had both taught me. I always wanted to be like Angela, she was beautiful, kind, fun, full of energy a great wife and a great mom. Then I had my second daughter diagnosed with a brain tumour at 16 months, between the tumour, surgery and chemo therapy and time we realized that we had a child with specialties. I have said over and over again to teachers that Holland now at 12 but even younger most likely knew more about the healthcare system,medicine and spirituality then they did at 30. There was a day when Olivia was hospitalized and not feeling well, Holland leaned her head over so her cheek was on the top of Olivia’s (her special sisters ) head and said It’s ok Olivia your fighter T cells are fighting to make you better. she had picked that up from listening to me study out loud. It was shocking at what she retained from listening to everything. More amazing was too see what appeared naturally. Hospitalized for almost 8 months with only a few days reprieve between admissions we had developed a routine. With only two children at the time my husband would work during the day, pick Holland up from grandpa’s and head to the hospital for our daily visit. One such night Holland slipped away from the area outside her sisters room that the nurses had set up for Holland to play in. The nurses often let her sit and color at the desk while she pretended to be a nurse. On my way to the desk I looked into the room of a 2 yr old girl who was nearing the end of her life ,unable any longer to do anything she just lay there eyes closed, beside her bed stood Holland only 4 yrs old one hand holding the little girls, the other softly stroking her arm. Holland looked up when I came in, putting her little finger to her lips motioning for me to be quiet. I whispered that we had to leave, more for fear that she would ask questions. She ever so gently patted the top of her hand and then tucked her hand under the plush blanket that her parents must have brought in. I asked her why she was in there holding her hand? She said “mommy I could feel it!” I asked her “feel what?” “that she wanted me to hold her hand” I watch her FB posts about her love for her sister and I know now that my beautiful daughter is growing up to be just like her Auntie Ange and that when she chooses her career it won’t matter what the title is because already at 12 she is a Nurse, Social Worker, teacher and my precious daughter. Bear You will never know just how proud I am of you. We sometimes think that there isn’t anyone that understands how we feel. When it comes to the challenges and sacrifices you have had to deal with and may have to face in the future Auntie would understand. You and I have had many late night conversations about doing your best to understand what it’s like to be in another persons shoes but to truly be Empathetic you have to have worn those shoes and once you have earned that right no one who hasn’t worn them can take that away from you or tell you your wrong. I used to worry that you would grow up resenting your childhood, I know now without a shadow of a doubt that although it will be perfectly natural to talk about the challenges we as a family and you as a child faced growing up you will be like Auntie and like the way I try to be and that is wishful for the obvious reasons things had been different but thankful for the priceless life lessons that will have spun you into the amazingly strong, independent and compassionate woman you are destined to become. You tell me how much you love Ellen and how people idolize her, you are only 12 and I know for a fact that many idolize you. Not because your famous but because of who you naturally are. All my love Auntie Ange,Linda, Michelle and my beautiful daughter Holland.

  13. Joe Says:

    Well written.

  14. Steve Nation Says:

    My mother actually shared this on Facebook for my sister and me. I don’t cry often but it’s nice to see that someone gets us. I know my parents do too but it seems as though very rarely anyone outside of my family gets it it. It is definitely a struggle. Not onlin the past and present but in the future knowing that who you marry will have to not only take you into their life but also your sibling. It’s an overall struggle but as you said…so very worth it! From walker soccer to sibshops, from iep meetings to therapies…it makes us who we are. I am a special education teacher and my sister will soon be an occupational therapist because of the hearts we have grown through our experience. Thank you so much for this writing as it means a lot.