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