A letter from a sister of a woman with disabilities to their parents

Dear Mom and Dad,

You are great parents! You have raised me to be an awesome, successful person. I have the job I always wanted and live in a safe, comfortable place, and have some of the best friends a person could hope to have. So does Lily! (Well, except the job. I expect she’ll have a job that she loves someday, though.) This can’t have been easy. Raising any children is hard – raising two smart children who try to outwit you, especially when one needs intensive medical care, has got to be way harder!

One of the biggest gifts you’ve given me is the knowledge that I have chosen to be part of this family. I have chosen to be the person who takes over Lily’s care when you can’t. That choice is only possible because you let me have my own life – you encouraged me to have my own life! And now I know that even if this is a choice for me and me alone to make, making that choice does not mean I face the challenge of helping Lily be her best self alone.

If I could give you any gift, it would be the ability to do the same. You love Lily, I know (as do I!), and caring for her is a choice. But you don’t have to do it alone. You can and should have your own lives! Especially now, when both of your daughters are doing so well. Yes, we both have scary things happening in our lives – Lily may be having more accidents and is getting sick more often, and I’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia – but we’re both happy kids most of the time. I know that you don’t have very much support from your families, and that you have relatively few friends, and fewer still who can step in during crisis, but there are resources out there that you haven’t tapped yet, and resources that you only sort of let help. It’s terrifying to think of trusting them, but I hope that you can. Lily’s going to be fine; you’ve raised her to be amazing and she can take care of herself better than we sometimes remember.

We want you to be happy kids, too.

All my love,
Elysia

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