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Dear Sibling of a Child With Cerebral Palsy: You Are Amazing

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Dear Big Sister to a Little Sister with cerebral palsy,

A few weeks ago, when you had no idea I was watching, I witnessed a remarkable act of love and compassion. I saw how you lovingly embraced and soothed your little sister after she stumbled and had a hard fall. I witnessed you stroke her soft hair and wipe her tear-stained face. I listened as you whispered soft words of comfort and encouragement in her ear. I watched as you swiftly made your way to the freezer to fetch one of the ice packs we always have on hand. Moments like these have become commonplace in our world of living with cerebral palsy.

Although you are not the one living with cerebral palsy, you are familiar with this world and what this diagnosis means. You have tagged along on countless doctor appointments and therapy sessions. You have been a part of care plan meetings and brace fittings. You have witnessed your sister scream in pain from lab draws and injections for muscle spasticity. You have witnessed tears silently stream down your mommy’s face too many times. I imagine you’ve been filled with worry and concern too. I have heard you explain to your friends in the most perfect way why your sister’s left side “doesn’t work as well” or why she has to wear a brace on her leg. You seem to go through all of this heavy stuff while wearing a brave and happy face.

I imagine this life is hard for you too. I’ve seen you sad and wishing your sister would be able to just walk up the stairs or put on her own brace and shoes all by herself. Or run around at the park carefree like other kids. I know there are times when you feel like your sister is getting all of Mommy and Daddy’s attention, and life seems to revolve around her. This is the only life you know, and you own it. You my child are amazing. And brave too.

You have a “one-up” on life and you don’t even realize it yet. Growing up with a sister who has cerebral palsy can be challenging, however it is helping to perfectly shape you into the incredible person you are meant to be. This life has shown you the beauty of unconditional love. You love your sister so fiercely and are her biggest cheerleader and protector. You accept her and celebrate even the tiniest of milestones and victories. This life has also given you unwavering compassion and empathy toward your sister and every other human being. It is already so natural for you to be there for others who need a word of encouragement, a quiet smile, a helping hand or a friendly presence. These qualities are beyond your years.

You are living a life that takes an understanding heart and a strong mind. You are destined for great things in this messy but beautiful life, and I am thankful I get a front row seat to watch your life unfold. You my dear are a beautiful soul. I believe God sure knew Mommy and Daddy needed you, and knew your little sister needed you too.

Love you so much,

Originally published: February 14, 2019
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