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August 18, 2010 / paperkids

The birthday note

My husband, Jared, recently celebrated his birthday – another birthday, he would call it.  And since Emma had started communicating, I thought, “Cool, I can see if she wants to spell out a message to him!”  I told her that I could make a card for him and she could spell out a note just for daddy.  And since I hadn’t actually gotten him anything myself, I thought a special note from Emma would more than make up for it.   In the past, we’ve made or bought cards and helped her sign them with her name and maybe do some coloring on them with stickers.  Crafts have never been her favorite activity.  Maybe she got that from her mommy!

Poor Jared.  I know he wants so badly to be able to have Emma spell out for him.  I was a little worried about it at first, but then I read that sometimes the person communicating may just feel more comfortable pointing for one person at first.  And that person just happens to be me. 

There are many things that one fears as a  parent of a child with autism.   New fears get added along the way of time.  And I think as the years go by, there are so many fears and worries built up that  you begin to function pretty well with the weight of it.   It is when a fear is lifted that you realize how it heavy it was.  Jared and I have sheltered MANY fears and worries in our hearts.  I’ve worried  mostly about the current situations: school, therapy, communication, so on…. 

But for Jared, the biggest fear he’s carried all these years has been– “If one day I suddenly died in an accident and never came home…How would she know that I hadn’t just abandoned her? Would she ever realize what had happened to me?  Will Emma feel utterly abandoned?” 

I can hear this dialoque in my head so clearly because I heard it from Jared so many times.  This is also coupled with the fear of who will be there for the children when we are gone.  In fact,  for many of my friends with special needs children, the fear of themselves dying stands above all other fears. 

I’m not really sure how most people talk about death with their kids.  My guess is that it happens whenever the subject gets brought up.  Emma being non-verbal, it never really got brought up, but we never really edited ourselves that much in front of her.   We just didn’t know for sure, like so many other things we’ve since discovered.

So, I sat down with Emma on the couch, keyboard in hand, and she spelled this out:

Tears in my eyes, I typed out the message  so I could print it out and put it on the card.  

Jared  was overcome with emotion when he opened the card.  Tears came to his eyes and I know that those words had lifted a weight that had been there for years. 

He said, “When I think of myself dying, she is always there by my bedside looking down at me.”  I had never heard him say this, so I was even more aware of how that note touched his heart.

I asked Emma if I could share this story and her note.  She spelled out “yes”.  Then she pointed out: 

I really get death

I know this may seem like a pretty heavy post, but it’s just another one of those moments that I feel compelled to share, if only for the reason that it might have given me some peace,  if I had’ve read it.  

For Jared, it was the best birthday gift ever!!


Leave a Comment
  1. Grandma / Aug 18 2010 2:49 am

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  2. Candy / Aug 18 2010 7:03 am

    Eric & I discuss that topic, occasionally, even though I dislike it because it makes me sad. I think it’s normal for parents who have kids with disabilities to think and talk about it. You just try your best to plan for the future for your family.

    Whenever I read your new entries, I get so excited to read what Emma has to say or think. Her message for Jared has so much feeling that she possesses. Kids with autism may not show empathy, but Emma proved that they DO have feelings for others. Her words are so powerful and deep.

    Thanks so much for sharing this story. You & Jared are great parents!

  3. Lynn States / Aug 18 2010 10:14 am

    Emma is far beyond her young years in seeing the depth of relationships and love. (And that card is a keeper!)

  4. Heather Swint / Aug 18 2010 11:25 am

    Whew….that was heavy – and amazing. Maybe the most amazing yet. Keep it up Emma & Sabre

  5. Amber / Aug 18 2010 11:55 am

    You know, It is so wild how she knew exactly what he needed to hear! I love her heart. Love you guys! Happy BIrthday to Jared! Hope he likes his gift! 😉

  6. Molly / Aug 18 2010 2:22 pm

    Not just ‘another’ birthday, a Jared? 🙂 So special, so happy for you, thank you for taking such good care of my niece and the little ones, you all are blessed, that’s for sure! ❤ Molly

    just remember when you get older, you get wiser, ehehelol… : ) : ) : )

  7. Julie Wolfe / Aug 18 2010 3:33 pm

    Once again I’m in tears. Knowing Jared and how sensitive a man he is, I can just picture his reaction at such a profound expression of love. No greater gift than that.

    • smurphy3 / Aug 19 2010 3:30 am

      I agree girl! Even writing it, it was hard not to choke up AGAIN!!

  8. Regina Alandy / Aug 18 2010 8:25 pm

    You just make me cry today. I’m so proud of Emma. Everytime I see Emma she reminds me of Valerie, their behavior are almost identical, I think Emma is more social than Valerie but they both are non verbal at this age. Valerie is communicating more now verbally to us with her needs ,wants and if she’s hurt other than that she is on her own world. Joseph and I discussed the same topic , It’s scary but I guess God is always in our kids’ side He’ll not leave them hanging. Love you guys.


  9. Katie / Aug 18 2010 9:36 pm

    Of course she loves him, he is one great Dad! How special that she and Hayden were given him and how incredible that she knows just how to love him back. God smiles on your family, Sabra. He has a design in mind and chose you, Emma and all your loved ones to draw it out for the rest of us. Thank you.

  10. Austin / Aug 19 2010 12:58 am

    oh my GOSH, you guys! i lost it when i read this. i miss you guys! come home to lakeland soon 🙂

  11. tonya / Aug 20 2010 12:50 am

    What a beautiful way for her to express her love.

  12. Rhea / Aug 20 2010 9:10 pm

    Alone, Emma’s words to Jared are beautiful… but now to know the back story of Jared’s biggest fear, her words are even more moving. The relationship between a father and daughter is so special and it is a blessing that Emma now has this method of communication to give her dad some peace of mind.

    This post blew me away, Sabra. I cried my eyes out just like everyone else!

  13. Irene Cerna / Aug 27 2010 9:28 pm

    Just beautiful! I cried like a baby from the powerful message Emma has taught me from this post. I am inspired by your and Emma’s determination.

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