My daughter, Birdie, is a beautiful child. She is so very compassionate. Even as a tiny child her ability to feel empathy for someone’s suffering was obvious, touching. Like myself, she feels everything so deeply. She tries to be a friend to everyone she knows, as I’ve tried to raise her to do. She was gentle before she could speak it, loving before she knew it’s name. A few days ago she sat with her father and I late one night (as she often does)…and told us how she counts. She counts letters in words, lines, and they all have to equal a particular number. I held in the first and obvious conclusion, and instead told her I thought everyone goes through that ‘phase’ and not to worry. She seemed eager to get it out in the open. We listened. She knows about my anxiety, but I don’t really go into details with her yet. She’s still in elementary school. I fell asleep wrestling with myself about my response. The following day I really struggled with it. I cried. I told my husband I didn’t want that for her, I don’t. I never want this for anyone. To ponder the life she will have if her mind is infinitely bombarding her with numbers, patterns, strife…it breaks me. Unable to sit, I have been watching her, observing her behavior like a doctor in a movie watches their patient in a hospital room….dramatically analyzing every breath, her walk, the way she speaks when she is interacting with others, how she eats. I wrote her a letter, because when I try to talk to her I feel the tears fill my eyes, and what I want to say just doesn’t come out.
My sweet Birdie,
You are my most precious gift. I knew before we found out that you were to be my daughter. I envisioned that you would look like me in every way, but even more beautiful – and you are. I have watched you chase life down with such unabashed joy. It comforts my soul to see you each and every day. I cherish the moments we have when no one else is around, and it’s true when I tell you how much I value our friendship. I envy your ability to bring love and kindness out of those you love. It’s amazing. You have such a way with our dogs, they respond to you in a way I simply do not understand and I’m thrilled you seem to be able to reach even them on another level.
I know you may feel different inside. I can see that wheel turning as you ponder your heart’s desires…to fit in. There isn’t a single person that is exactly like the other on the inside. You are wonderfully and beautifully made.
Hearing that you count things, and in fact find it as a ‘thing you just have to do’ breaks me my love. I never wanted to hurt you. My prayers, hopes, dreams have always been for you to have a better life, more love, more peace…than I had as a child. I’m sorry I couldn’t keep you from my struggle. If I could put into words the heavy, all consuming guilt I feel, down into my bones I would, but I am in ruins.
Please don’t feel that being different is bad. Quite the opposite my sweet little bit. Being unique is what I love about you most of all. If you were like someone else, you wouldn’t be you, and you wouldn’t be mine.
If there ever comes a time you feel out of control, whether from that tick, tick, tick of your mind, the ever-present sound of your quickly beating heart, or the immense sadness that comes with realizing ‘our different’ isn’t so easy…I will be right here. I am always going to be here. You will never fight this battle alone. You will never be made to feel unloved, unwanted as I have in my life. For you I would die, and for you I have lived my beloved. If I could take it all away I would, but I can’t. Instead I offer my patience, acceptance and my heart for you to break, and yes it will happen. I am prepared. Know there is nothing you will ever say to make me love you less. You could try and you will, but there is nothing you will do that will change the way I see you…my daughter, my sweet love.
The road will seem long, and it’s okay to feel cheated. The days may seem unending. Know this now and forever, I am here, right here.