“When sisters stand shoulder to shoulder, who stands a chance against us?”  ~Pam Brown

Alexa,

I know that being Sabrina’s sister won’t always be easy. You already have a desire for things and people who are “pretty” (yes, we’re working on that), and want things to be wrapped up in a pretty little bow. And let’s face it, as pretty and sweet and wonderful as your sister is… she’s not easily wrapped up in a perfect pretty little bow, is she? You’ll encounter mean people, people who stare, who don’t have the empathy and compassion that you’ve already grown to have in your young 3 years. And as you both grow, it’ll get harder.

A while back you, me, and Sabrina were sitting on the couch. Sabrina kept trying to hug you, but you wanted to continue to watch the video that was playing and kept pushing Sabrina way. Suddenly you turned to me and said “Sabrina doesn’t talk too much”.  I said “Well, baby, if she doesn’t talk very much, then her hugging us is her way of telling us that she loves us.” You looked at me like a lightbulb went on, turned to Sabrina, nuzzled up against her and said “Sissy, I missed you today sooooo much.” And Sabrina’s face completely lit up. My hope is that you always remember that although Sabrina may never be able to express in words how much she loves you, that you’ll see the way that she lights up at you and that you won’t need her words to feel her love. Allow yourself to feel it when she gives you her big hugs and beaming smile.

Last month we stayed at your grandparents’ house while we had some remodeling done. In the morning Avo (Portuguese word for grandmother) peeked into the bedroom that you two share and found you both sitting in your bed. You were brushing Sabrina’s hair while she sat there quietly, smiling. And she was still. STILL! She’s never still for anyone else while getting her hair brushed. You often tell Sabrina she’s your Best Friend, and always make sure she’s joining us in whatever we do.  Yet, I know that finding ways to connect with Sabrina can be challenging. It makes me sad that you two will never share typical sister stuff, like late night conversations and giggling in bed. However, my hope is that you will strive to find your own ways to connect with her, that you’ll carve out ways to keep your relationship a special one.

I recently came upon this post, which talks about what one mother of a child with a disability saw in the movie Frozen. Elsa was taught to “conceal, don’t feel” and to hide the differences she was born with. She was not to talk about it, in hopes that it would go away.  While being “different” will most likely never bother Sabrina (a blessing, in a lot of ways), you, Alexa, have already started to notice. My hope is that you will feel that you can communicate to me when you’re feeling sad, embarrassed, scared, angry or neglected because of your sister. Those feelings will come up, and it’s normal and OK. I feel them sometimes, too.

We were walking to Sabrina’s playgroup, and because I was going to a training, you were able to join in, too. “Come on, sissy. Come with me to playgroup. I’ll hold your hand and make you feel better.,” you said.  My hope is that you never feel that your role in life is to take care of your sister. Your role in life is to open your wings and fly as your own person.  Your dreams are important.  However, my hope is also that you’ll always want to make sure she’s happy and safe.  You can be a fierce protector at times, and my hope is that you will always stand up for her when it’s the right thing to do.  You’re a mighty pistol, Alexa.  Sabrina is lucky to have you as her little sister.

Love,

Mommy

My name is Nelia, and I live in Northern California.

I think this is the part where I write about my exhausting (oops, I meant wonderful) 2 children. Sabrina is 7. She is the sweetest soul you’ll ever meet, with a smile that will light up the room. She’s was born with a significant disability. Alexa is my sassy, spirited 3 year old. They love each other fiercely. My husband Ken is patient, thoughtful, and giving. We also have a Golden Retriever named Ginger and a medium-haired black cat named Sammy. I left my full time job planning conferences & tradeshows about 2 years ago to stay home with the girls. I still do some part-time contract work as an event planner, although my passion has been getting involved in the special needs community.  So, we’ll see where that takes me.