To Emma on your 5th birthday

Every year on Emma’s birthday I’ve written her a letter for her to open when she’s older.

Thought I’d share this years.

“Dear Emma,

5 years old.
Counting down every day since Christmas it’s fair to say you’re a little excited.

We’ve been in Bergen for a little over 6 months now.

Of all of us, it’s probably taken you the longest to settle down.


It was never our intention to make things difficult for you, but it was always our intention to ensure you have a stable upbringing.

You’ve unintentionally been given a childhood that will be dominated by the level of care Jennifer needs.

The Australian in me wants to say
“Chin up and get the fuck on with it”

Somehow I’ve learnt that saying won’t help!

Know this:
You deal with things unbelievably well.
You adjust incredibly well to the task you’ve been given.
Only once have you said a bad word about Jennifer.
But on more occasions than I can count you’ve been the most caring, supportive and loving sister Jennifer could’ve asked for.


At times you seemed unhappy when we moved here, or maybe that was because your mum and I were so keen for you to fit in so quickly.

When we left you to figure things out for yourself and Jennifer started going to her carers every month all that changed

We’ve been able to give you some much needed time alone, and you’ve loved every minute of it!

We’ve always reinforced with words that you mean as much to us as Jennifer, and that moving here was for all of us, not just Jennifer.

It really is true that actions speak louder than words…..

You, like most kids, amaze us at times with how much you understand.


But, at others, it becomes blatantly clear that you are only 5 years old.

It was new years eve, we were sitting at the table at your aunty and uncles;

Your cousin was 9 months old at the time, Jennifer was 2 years.
Your cousin was sitting in her high chair, eating and drinking from her cup by herself.

“Why can’t Jennifer do that?”

You know full well that Jennifer can’t see, and that she will one day need a wheelchair, but explaining that she can’t use her hands properly and other things about her disabilities is obviously beyond the understanding of a 5 year old.

I hope you don’t go around thinking too much about your sister, you need to live your life.

Having said that, she’s an integral part of your life.


You often bring home things from kindy for Jennifer to smell or touch, you’re so thoughtful.

You’re the first to cuddle her when she comes home from her respite carers and you’re the first to say you miss her when she’s away.

I haven’t really come to terms with this whole respite care gig, I feel guilty for some reason.

But you reinforce the need for it by giving us so much back.

And I enjoy the alone time we get with you, you deserve it!

You teach me so much!

And if Jennifer has to sacrifice being with us for you then so be it, Mum and I will find a way to deal with it for you.

Because you’ve sure as hell had to sacrifice the most important part of your life for her.


If we’ve made mistakes I’m sorry, we’re not perfect.

Now more than ever, we’re learning the path as we walk it.

Love you always.


3 thoughts on “To Emma on your 5th birthday

  1. What a beautiful gesture and when Emma is old enough to read these letters it will mean so much to her, that you cared enough to put your thoughts down on paper for her.


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