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To My Child Who Lives in The Shadow of His Brother's Disability

Chandler, my child. My wild one. My all-boy, car loving, star wars obsessed, sweet, three-year-old.


You have spent your entire life living in the shadow of Christian's disability. It's all you've ever known. You have slept on hospital couches, ridden literally thousands upon thousands of miles to make Christian's appointments, and spent most of your time as second string to Christian's internet popularity.

You have sacrificed so much to be so young. You have given up a "typical" childhood. You have given up days spent with "just the three of us" as nurses come in and out of our home all week to care for Christian. You don't act like the "baby" of the family, probably because you don't get to be the baby. You have had to grow up so fast. Your brother has needed you. I have needed you. To be more independent. To help out. To carry your share and,, it literally hurts me to write this, but part of Christian's share, too. Because Christian can't.

You have been measured and compared to your big brother for your entire life. Christian was never into things like you were as an infant. Christian would never think about getting into the stuff you have. We fought so hard for Christian's first steps that the day they happened was a celebration. The day you took your first steps in the front yard of our home one hot June morning, wearing that yellow shirt with the little crab on it, will forever be imprinted in my mind, but no one else seemed to make a fuss. So often people have approached us in public, doting over Christian, drawn to him or recognizing him, fussing over how wonderful he is, only to finally turn to you before they walk away, almost as an afterthought that it would be rude not to speak to you too, and ask what your name is again, because they forgot; or just call you "Christian's little brother."

You have spent so many hours in waiting rooms and parked cars while Christian was in therapy, hundreds at least, instead of playing. You didn't really fit in at therapies as a typical child. You weren't welcomed in the therapy rooms, but it wasn't fair for you to sit in a waiting room hours a week either. You were just sort of stuck. It broke my heart that my hands were tied and I had to choose between getting Christian's therapies or giving you necessary time to play. I knew which one I had to choose, but it wasn't because I chose Christian over you. I hope you know it was never Christian over you.

You learned patients at such a young age, waiting while I tend to Christian's needs first, even if you needed things, too. Sometimes his medical needs couldn't wait. Sometimes I had to choose to do a tube feeding or take my incontinent five year old to the bathroom again rather than just sitting in the floor and playing race cars with you. All you wanted sometimes was for me to sit and play race cars with you. But you waited.

One of my all time favorite photos of Chandler!
You had to grow up quicker than most kids. You didn't get to just be a kid. You had responsibilities right away, from the moment you were able to carry them. You had to watch your brother endure painful procedures and lie, bloody, in hospital beds, too young to even understand why it was happening. You had to step up, do and learn things on your own, because I was overwhelmed with teaching Christian.




In all that you have endured in your young life, you have the right to complain and feel cheated. But you don't.

Brothers Forever






You wake up every morning with a "Mama! It's a hot, sunny day!" even when it's cold and rainy outside, because for you, the sun shines even on the dark days. You are the sunshine on the dark days.

You have reason to be unhappy, but you aren't. Your joy is so radiant that it infects others and you are desperate to share that joy everywhere you go. Joy for you is so simple. It looks like a Hotwheels Car, a cup of chocolate milk, or bowl of spaghetti. As surely as your eyes open in the mornings, your mouth begins to turn up in a smile. Joy is your default.

Picking at each other and loving it
You have a deep understanding of what it means to be a family, to care about each other and work together for the good of everyone. You genuinely love people and always see the good in others. Your friendliness and acceptance of everyone you meet is admirable. You can't wait to show others your race cars, anxious to share your joy. You want nothing more than to share with others and love them.

You are wise  beyond your years, an old soul. I guess you've had to be. You've had to play the role of big brother, to guide Christian since he can't guide you. You've had to fill shoes that were never yours to fill, and yet you take it all in stride and do it anyways.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't sometimes feel guilty for all that you have had to go through at such a young age, for all you have sacrificed for your brother and for me. You deserve the world, and I want to give it to you, but sometimes you end up with so much less. It isn't fair. It's definitely not fair. You certainly didn't ask to be the younger brother of a little boy with so many extra needs.

 But instead of letting it run you down or make you bitter, I am watching you turn into the most amazing young man. I feel honored that I get to see you developing into someone who is so kind and compassionate. You have let your short life experience refine you and shape you, and you are going to be the most amazing man one day. Chandler Tate Buchanan, you aren't living in a shadow. You are making your own sunshine out of darkness.

I'll show you the way Brother!

Comments

  1. Oh my goodness this is just the most beautiful thing I have been privileged to read!......brought tears to my eyes, not because I feel sorry for Chandler or his family but because the love you have as a family just shines through those words as if they are lit by the heavens above. What lovely memories and record for you and your family to look back on for years to come. May God continue to watch over you all x

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  2. I don't feel as if chandler has been placed on the back burner, I do believe he understands a lot more than we all do....God blessed you with two amazing little boys, whom you love unconditionally. ...you are doing a great job

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  3. Oh, my. So Beautiful. And Chandler, if I ever get to meet you, I WILL know your name and I will want to tell you how special you are.

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  4. I don't feel as if chandler has been placed on the back burner, I do believe he understands a lot more than we all do....God blessed you with two amazing little boys, whom you love unconditionally. ...you are doing a great job

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  5. Made me cry, again, and smile and laugh at the same time. Chandler is, without a doubt, a most amazing young man. I love your description of how he wakes up on the morning, rain or shine. God has doubly blessed you, that's for sure.

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  6. This is amazing & Chandler is amazing. You's are doing a wonderful job with your two boys. It makes me want to be a better mom. Your doing a great job. Thank you so much for sharing this..I love your boys they are both so great in there own ways :)

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  7. So well said. I have three sons. My middle son has complex medical condition. My other two boys have spent their lives so different from other children. I truly believe that they are better human beings because of their brother. More compassionate and truly understand what life is about. Our lives may be different then most but it is our life. My boys are men now and I can tell you that they are the man they are because of growing up a special brother. Look forward to seeing what they will do for this world. I know they will make an impact.

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  8. And when Chandler was created, God picked him to be Christian's brother. He made him to be the best brother for him. He made him happy, sunny, loving. Thank you Lacey for letting us in your world.

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  9. Tears flowing. Chandler is such a very special little guy. God made sure of that. The love just flows out of your family.

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  10. Thank you for sharing. Beautiful words. I feel that Chandler will grow up and work in one of the helping professions, lightening the burdens of others, healing them, lifting their spirits, or comforting them. He will be the amazing man you have raised.

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  11. He is a awesome little brother but kids dont always feel that way the just thinks its how life is swnse they grew up that way. And it dont feel like its christians fault he has had to do all these things though thats kinda how i read it. Your awesome mom! I dont know if i could do what you do!

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  12. Lacey, this is beautifully written! Someday when Chandler is old enough to read & understand this, he will treasure it.

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  13. I have often wondered how Chander fits into the picture, how he copes with all the attention Christian gets, how you balance yourself between the needs of Christian's disabilities and Chandlers toddler demands. Thank you so much for this story about Chandler.
    You are a great Mom. Never give up. But always try to make time for you.

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  14. Trying to type through tears...Chandler is an amazing little boy,he is everything you've described because of YOU...you raised him to be that wonderful little boy and he will grow into a wonderful man because of how he was raised,Christian is so lucky to have such an amazing brother.My youngest son also faces some rough moments being the sibling of a child with special needs..You and your husband have 2 very amazing boys,give yourselves a pat on the back,you've done good����

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  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  16. Chandler is such a precious child as is Christian from what I leearned in your blog, your FB page etc. His growing up with Christian will give him a better insight to others disablilites and will give him more compassion for others. He will thank you later for all the love you show him even while showing Christian love and having so many appointments etc.(Edited)

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  17. You are an amazing woman, your sons are amazing children, and although we don't see much of your husband, I'm sure he is amazing, too. To have written this and understand Chandler the way you do, only reinforces how much admiration I have for you.

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  18. Everyone keeps taking the words out of my mouth !! You,your husband and of couse the boys are simple said JUST AMAZING !!! You have done such an amazing job with everything that some how you always manage to do !!! I am so inspired by you and what and how you do it !! I love you and your sweet, wonderful, loving family !! Your family is so very BLESSED to have you honey and I would be more than proud to call you my friend !! You are a wonderful WIFE, MOTHER, and SWEET, SMART WOMAN who truly knows what the word LOVE MEANS IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD !!!! GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR WONDERFUL FAMILY !!! <3

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  19. you know what I could pretty much write the same thing to my 22 year old daughter who had two little brothers 15 months apart when she was 6 and 7 funny even though your son needs more attention it is always the same in each family for some reason the stronger child is the helper it makes for a good lesson in latter life my daughter has become a strong mom now her self and to this day never mentions how much attention the boys got over her it was the way of life she loves them and us ust the same

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  20. God places each of us exactly where we are supposed to be. Chandler IS extraordinary in how he is handling it, so are you as his mom, not only helping him, but in acknowledging that instead of just expecting it. <3 you all!

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  21. Nice meet admin,
    it's really a nice article indeed.
    by the away here i have written an article about baby walker why
    every parent should provide a baby walker to their baby.
    Hope the article clear you concept about using a baby walker , baby walker and carpet
    best baby walkers thanks

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  22. I came upon your blog on Google search. I loved reading this post/ entry. It brought tears to my eyes, now I'm sitting here crying, lol. But I wanted to say, I think Chandler is adorable! He sure is a special little man :) he sure has taken on a big roll. But, he's still so happy and loving, no matter what. It really made me happy. Christian really does have, the best little brother. Both of your boys are so handsome. I think you are such a wonderful mother. I wish you and your family, the very best.

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  23. Chandler is indeed a very caring little boy. You and your husband have done a beautiful job raising both your wonderful boys, and they are blessed to have such caring parents.

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  24. While I am glad that you recognize the things Chandler gives up to be Christian's brother/helper/friend, I think that Chandler to very special to all of us. I hope he realizes this.
    I think he is adorable.

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  25. I see book 2 coming soon
    What a wonderful mom u r

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  26. I understand this from a personal perspective so it touches my heart deeply. Chandler is such a joy! I have no doubt that he will be blessed by being Christian's brother and Christian will be blessed by being Chandler's brother. Without struggle, you cannot learn perseverance. Without putting others first, you cannot learn selflessness. Without trusting in God to work all things out for good, you do not learn to rely on your faith. I'm sure it's already been said, but when you look at the picture, it's as if the light from Chandler is passing through to Christian creating a glow around him. Much love to your family this holiday season!

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  27. It wasn’t until I got near the end I realised I was crying. The love you have for your boys is palpable in every word! It’s profound! He has never been in Christians shadow as you have just proved. He walks in the sun hand in hand with him. They fit together perfectly! As he grows along side his brother you know who he’s going to thank for his wonderful life? His amazing mom and dad! You have given the world two amazing young man and the world will be better with them. Two links in an amazing chain of love... of family xxxx

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