This morning I called. Three rings and a few moments later – I was talked to a seemingly empty receiver. I knew you were there, listening, as always: The quiet breathing, occasional sniffle, and the dropping of the phone kind of tipped me off. But all that is beside the point. Today, you turn ten.
I originally planned on spending the day with you, as usual. Maybe get some pancakes, try and embarrass you a little. Who knows. I didn’t really have the day planned. I didn’t really know what would go down. But instead, last minute plans left me a thousand miles away – talking to you on the phone while you did what you do best, and listened.
I filled in the gaps, carried on a conversation as if you were giving answers right back at me. And then I hung up the phone and thought about what you hadn’t said. Not just today. But in the past five years.
Someone asked me the other day if I had ever considered buying you an iPad to help you communicate with others. I brushed it off with my common answer of not wanting to disable you from communicating outside of a piece of technology, and how I wanted you to be able to communicate with everyone – no matter what electronic you held in your hand. I stated my case. Then stopped and thought about what I had just said and wondered for a brief moment: Am I disabling you?
The things I do, I do with you in mind. I try to think about your best interest, and plan for future. I accept the help for you that I believe will give you the best results, and try not to hold you back too much. I try to push you, encourage you to expand, and try to give you the tools you need to grow…
But in all this, am I holding you back? Am I making the wrong choices? Am I giving you the wrong things, and holding back the right? In the name of helping am I really holding you back? In trying to push you, am I hurting you? In trying to grow your mind, am I really just inhibiting your abilities?
And then, in a brief moment of self-pity, where I feel sorry for myself – I cry out to no one in particular that if only you would talk. If only you would tell me. If only you could communicate with me. If only. I never asked for this. I never wanted to go down this road. I never. Me. I. What about you?
In all my thinking and planning and hoping and wanting and wishing – What about you? Do you wish you could talk? Do you wish I would stop holding you back? Are the things I assume about you really so wrong? Do I not know you the way I like to think I do? Are you really so different? Would you tell me if I were holding you back? Would you somehow let me know?
And then I stop. And think. And realize.
You never asked for this either. You didn’t ask to be scared. To be hurt. To be torn down, and belittled, and left. You didn’t ask to live here. You didn’t ask for people to talk about you while you are standing there with them. You didn’t ask for me to selfishly wonder “WHY ME!” Yet you smile…
And you dance. And you laugh. And you show the world how to be a better person, just by being you.
And if there is one thing I should know by now, it’s what you have shown me, again and again and again. It doesn’t matter what life hands your way. It doesn’t matter who tries to knock you down, or gain from your failures, or triumph over your disasters….it doesn’t matter.
Because at the end of the day, you go home with yourself – not them. And at the end of the day, when you smile, and laugh, or even when you cry in frustration. Even on the days that are so hard – I am reminded. No. I didn’t choose this for you. No. I wouldn’t have chosen this for you. But you? You make this world so much better just by being in it, and you make me realize just how lucky I am to be in this world with you. And no matter how tough things get, or how complicated and confusing things are – I am here to navigate those roads with you. And I will always be here for you.
I hope one day you will realize that I have failed, so hard, that I don’t always make the right choices for you, but I try. And I will always try. Because YOU are worth trying for, and you always will be. Don’t forget that.
Don’t let anyone hold you back, not even me.
Happy Birthday Buddy,
– Your Uncle