(In today’s post, I would like to share a letter to my three and a half year old son, Declan. I’m afraid this won’t be nearly as funny as my other posts, but I haven’t been doing a lot of laughing lately. I promise that happy Sean will be back in the next post.)
Last Thursday, I received a voice mail message from your mom that I hoped to God I would never hear.
“Sean, the doctor looked at hip x-rays… and Declan has your condition.”
Yes, Declan, I’m afraid that it’s true. Thanks to your father, you have something called Stickler Syndrome, a genetic malfunction in the tissue that connects your bones, heart, eyes and ears. This Stickler thing comes in many different forms, but the version we have seems to attack hips and eyes.
It seems silly for me to have to explain all this, because soon enough you’ll know what this “condition” is – first hand, you’ll experience the never ending pain that comes from a hip that just won’t do what it’s supposed to do, that somehow manages to hold together despite becoming more deformed with every passing day.
Declan, I wonder if the kids at school will laugh at you the way they laughed at me? Will they call you penguin for the way that you walk and taunt you for being the slowest person in the class, like they did to me?
Will you have to make up all kinds of reasons and excuses not to attend gym class, for fear that someone will notice how one hip is larger than the other?
Even worse, when you’re 15 will all hell break loose for you like it did for me, and will you have to spend 3 months in a hospital while world famous doctors struggle to keep you from going blind?
I guess, most of all, I want to say that I’m sorry. Sorry because you’re the last person in the world that I would ever want to hurt. And yet, I gave this to you. I did this.
I also want to tell you that there will be times when you wish you didn’t have this. Maybe it will be at 3 in the morning when you can’t sleep because your entire leg is on fire. Or the first time you can’t do something because of your hips, like play a contact sport or go jogging or ride a horse.
But here’s the thing I need you to know most of all:
You will overcome this.
Because let’s face it, no one is perfect.
Some people may hide their imperfections better than others but in the end we all have things about ourselves that we wish we could change and life is all about making the best of what you’ve got, period.
And our success in life isn’t determined by what we start with. It is the result of who we prove ourselves to be over all of our days on this planet.
You may not be a track star or a world famous athlete, but that leaves about a million other wonderfully cool things you could be in this life.
True, you have your daddy’s hips. But, you also have his heart.
Now let’s stop worrying about these creaky hips and start changing the world.