Kate Swenson's 4-year-old son, Sawyer, probably has no idea how much he has done for his family, but his mother hopes one day a letter she wrote for his most recent birthday will give him some idea.
Sawyer's older brother, Cooper, has severe, nonverbal autism. When Sawyer was born, Swenson was terrified that he, too, would be autistic. He wasn't, and instead "saved" his mother, she says.
In her letter to him -- which she shares on the Autism Speaks blog -- Swenson expresses both sorrow and gratitude.
“My little peanut,” she begins, before pouring her heart out, telling Sawyer that although she experienced fear and anxiety at his birth, more than anything he has given her joy and hope.
“You saved me, buddy,” she writes. “You were so easy that you allowed me to focus on your brother ... I am so sorry his disability overshadowed you.”
Swenson describes how Cooper’s simplest achievements — from using a straw to touching a raspberry — almost always automatically outshine Sawyer’s “normal” development.
"I want to thank you sweet boy," she writes. "Our life is hard. It is even scary sometimes. It’s exhausting. And you get the leftover shreds of a mother after autism is done. And I am sorry."
She concludes by explaining the bond that she and Sawyer will always have.
"I know you didn’t ask for this," she writes. "I didn’t either. But you have been given a responsibility. You are a sibling to a boy with severe autism."
Mom pens poignant thank you letter to 'easy' son