Dear Whomever Marries Luke and Kate,
You have been given a sacred and very prepared spouse.
Each of them is overqualified and overjoyed to share life’s adventures with you. Any adventures. They can roll with what life hands you along the way.
You see, for decades, they have loved and lived with their disabled brother.
They have been Ryan’s cheerleaders and champions.
His advocates and allies.
They’ve celebrated his tiny-but-huge milestones like being able to hold a pencil, write his name, read a short story, or run around the block without stopping.
They’ve smiled and waved at him during Halloween parades and music performances.
They willingly attended his adapted sports programs and high-fived him after his “goals” and “homeruns.”
Luke and Kate have run mental marathons every year as they’ve endured Ryan’s persistent anxiety and his epic (public or private) tantrums.
They have the patience of the Pope.
They are peacemakers.
They are full of gritty perseverance.
Luke and Kate learned early on that “life is not fair” and that rules and expectations differ for a disabled sibling.
They have learned the importance of expressing honest feelings of anger, disappointment, sadness, grief, and embarrassment. Time and again they have been validated and reinforced for this open communication. Even when they vomited it out in (momentary) utter dislike of their brother. We said to them, “We know, we get it, it’s ok to feel that way. Every feeling you have ever had, we have had.”
They have earned badges of honor in navigating through stressful situations, and seasons of unpredictable behavior of their brother.
In fact, they probably should have a PhD in Behavior Modification and Management by now, with all the thousands of hours of therapy they have listened to, observed, and self-implemented.
They have acquired the art and practice of gratitude; they know the power that lies within a grateful mind and heart to combat grief and stress.
Sandwiching Ryan in the middle of them, they have poured out compassion, love, understanding, and a million little prayers.
And here is where is you come in dear ones:
Because you have eagerly chosen to marry into this unique family story, you too, will be a vessel of love, care, and support for Ryan. He is a gift to you as well.
This may have not been on your Future Wife/Husband Attributes Top 10 List, but it is your new truth. And I hope you will embrace it with all your soul. Please wrap your mind about this right now, and say yes. Yes to Ryan. This is my prayer.
Lord willing, we, Ryan’s mom and dad, will pass away before Luke or Kate does. Which means Ryan will be left under the care and watch of his siblings. We will do our best to have provisions in place for his lifetime, however long that may be, so as not to be a financial burden on you all.
Thank you for fighting the good fight of faith and taking on our sweet Ryan. Even though it will try your mental, emotional, and spiritual capacity at times, you will be deeply and powerfully enriched.
Of this I am sure.
I thank you with all that is within me. Crowns in Heaven await you. Many of them.