Dear Ava,

Do you know that when you were a small baby and you would cry, my heart would jump? It’s hard to describe what it’s like to be a new Mommy…but there was and is something about you that makes me want to run to your side at the first tear or even the slightest giggle that leaves you.  I love all of your emotions and all that makes you my Ava.  Sometimes I wonder if you ever feel lost in the shuffle of our life.  I want you to know you never are.  I always know you are there, my tender companion.  You never walk far from me, it’s just the way you are.  An adventure usually makes you uncertain and scared…because you have a special ability to see ten miles down the road.  And like your Daddy, you think of all the possible outcomes before we take the first step.  But this makes you brave, my strong girl.  Braver than most, because you often choose to go anyway, even when you’re scared.

When we first told you that Emmy had Williams Syndrome, your first question was, “I know what Emmy is like now…but what I wonder is, what will she be like when she’s older?”  You get me with those questions because you often ask the very same question I wish I could answer for myself… “We have to wait and see, sweetie…” That’s what I said to you.  I hope you haven’t worried.  Because she’s doing really well, Ava.  And that is in part because of you.  You are an invaluable gift to her-her big sister.  There may be times that you don’t want to be that.  It’s ok. It may not be easy.  But it can be good, if you look for it to be good.  And just like I’ve promised Emmy that we will walk this road with her, we will also walk it with you…”so that you’re never alone.”  So I hope that this adventure with Emmy will be like the ones you’ve dared to take on before…there may be times when you don’t know how to respond, times when you feel angry, times when you feel like you’re not quite sure what you’re supposed to do with the gift of your little sister.  But know that there will be Grace in the midst from us and from the One who loved you before we even knew you.

Ava, you occupy a place in my heart that is all your own.  I love your soft face, the way your wrinkle your brow in concern, your vast, beautiful imagination, the intensity of your feelings, and the precision with which you create art.  I marvel at the things you think and adore the things you say.  Put one foot in front of the other when things get difficult…even if it’s just prayer uttered or a choice to be grateful.  I love you my Ava.

Always,

Mama

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Dear Emmy,

Hey big girl.  I wanted to tell you that the other day I saw some college students pushing one of their friends in a wheel chair.  I watched as they wheeled him past me and I tried not to stare, but it made me proud.  And then this week I saw a woman in Target who had a disability.  She was making her way through her grocery list and had a friend there to help.  It was hard for her, but she was doing it.  One item at a time, she was getting what she needed. Seeing them made me think about their journey…the things they’ve had to try hard at and the things they’ve overcome.  I thought about their Mamas and how they must have held them close like I hold you.  Emmy, you know how Mama told you that having you makes me stop and notice the world?  There are things that, in my hurrying, I never noticed before.  But now…now I treasure new things. New people.  See Em? You’re already changing me.  

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I know that people notice you.  They notice how you draw them in with your sparkly eyes.  They notice how you say “Hi” (already!) and how you reach out your tiny hand for theirs.  They notice how you make them forget that there are hard things that we will have to conquer.  
 
But you’re doing it, Em! You are moving and getting stronger, you are babbling and even saying some words.  You are standing with our help, trying new food, being silly on purpose, and pushing your brother away when you’re mad.  You are trying new things and cheering yourself on.  There is a Strength you are discovering and my cup overflows.  How could I be so blessed?  
 
Keep going, Emmy.  You’re doing so good.  
 
All My Love,
Mama
 
*photo credit: Lindsay McIntire