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Letters to my Daughter, Esther


Mother's Day 2014

To my sweet Esther,

I am so so sorry. I am sorry you feel alone and lost now that your dear little buddy is gone. I am sorry that at age 9 you held your dead little brother in your arms. I am sorry for the quiet sadness that hangs over our home and in our hearts.

Sweet little Esther so strong and fragile too. You have lost so much confidence. Since the night Charlie died you have slept by my side or in my arms. Your anxiety is high and floods endlessly through your body and mind. Your safety has been violated in a terrible way.

You hold tight onto terrible and irrational fears and you can't keep them away. You ask me repetitively if you have tetanus from walking barefooted outside. You think you might have brain cancer because you have a headache today. I showed irritation when you cracked your knuckles. Now you think this has given you unsightly large knuckles and that you have arthritis. Your worries are constant. You worry that you might have clicked on something inappropriate on the I Pad and that you have lost all our photographs of Charlie. I try to soothe you and chase your worries and fears away but they have an incredible persistence and determination. When Daddy went away for a couple of nights for work you asked if he would die too and if you would ever see him again --- you shook, you cried.

Another day you casually asked if someone can die from sadness.

You showed me a poem that you wrote. In the last line you said that since your brother died you felt 'like a flower with no petals.'

It's so hard to watch your pain. I would do anything to make it better for you. I want you to see what I see. The incredible little human being you are becoming. The night Charlie died you were gentle, calm and loving. After I woke you up at 2 am to tell you Charlie had died you crawled up next to his warm dead little body, tenderly kissed him, then slipped off his Halloween sock and placed his sock on your foot. You wore that sock for five days after Charlie died. (You only took it off because I insisted on washing it!)

In so many ways you are my medicine you are helping me heal my own broken heart. I hope that doesn't scare you too much. I hope you don't feel the pressure of curing your parents from their pain.

You are silly, you are tender, you are clever, kind, and perceptive .
I watch you at school. You wear your mask. You smile, you giggle, you whisper with a special friend. Nobody knows your fears at school, they don't see your heavy heart. You don't want to be the girl who lost her 5 year old brother.

But you are my sweet Esther. And your wounds will be woven into the tapestry of the incredible little human being you are becoming.

With all my love,
Your Mum
Written on Mother's Day
May 2014



September, 2011

Dearest Esther

Sweet little Esther. Always listening. Always just a few steps away. Always trying to understandEsther and trying to make it better. You are a funny little one, so strong and so very fragile too.
I try to be honest with you Estie. For this is a problem that is not going away, but soon will get worse and there is nothing we can do but prepare for the outcome. I remember the day after Charlie was diagnosed you came to the hospital with Grammy and Poppa. You sat in my lap in the hospital chair and watched your brother sitting on a mat angrily tossing plastic animals around the room. He did not look quite right. They had just started him on very high doses of steroids. This was the very beginning of the 7 hellish days in the hospital when Charlie’s behavior was frenetically obsessive and filled with scary rage. The doctors and nurses had to hold him down to get blood or even to take his blood pressure. He left the hospital with night terrors, not knowing who he could trust.

You turned to me on that second day in hospital and asked what was wrong with Charlie. I explained as best as I could to you, our dear 6 year old, that Charlie had a mass, a lump in his brain that the doctors couldn’t get rid of. You looked at me quietly and said directly, ”is he going to die Mum?” And looking you in the eyes and holding your hand I replied “I don’t know - maybe”. You abruptly got up from my lap and ran down the hallway. I ran after you. When I reached for your hand you pulled away and said “I hate you!” A few minutes later you came back into the room and stood by my side. We couldn’t talk as there were people around. So we just held hands.

Without you my love, this story would be very different. First of all I wouldn’t be so tired!! You talk non-stop! Even when you are sick you just keep going! But you keep me strong, you make me want to fight. I’m trying to get everything in place for you too, my love. I have spoken to your teacher, the school social worker, and a therapist this week. I know you are scared. It’s going to be hard for you Esther.  I will always be there for you in my heart, but there will times when I cannot be there when you need me, and I am sorry.  I am so very sorry already.

You are a wonderful sister Esther. So caring, tolerant and such pure fun. You have a hard time at bedtime. The other night you were crying and wailing insisting that I sit by your side as you fall asleep. Charlie was crying too wanting me to lie with him. Usually Charlie ends up winning and I go to his side. But this time I know you needed me and so I left Charlie screaming to sit by your side. When I reached your bed and stroked your hair, you took a deep breath and bravely told me that Charlie needed me more. I returned to Charlie but heard you quietly crying – you tried to be brave but I know you are suffering and need me too.

Esther & Charlie with Christmas cookiesThe other day I saw what you wrote in the very corner of the white board in the study –“ Please, please god help my brother get better”. When did you write that? How long has it been there? You are so quiet in your pain.

Hang in there my love. We are going to be okay.