Dear Benno,

I know today is just one example. I do know that. I know you will still tell me, but know that I too KNOW. I let you down. I do. Over and over.  I promise it is not on purpose. I swear that. But I know you are too young to understand that so you are only left with disappointment. Disappointment in me.

I missed it. 

I missed it.

I did.

This morning you had the dreaded sing-a-long at school. I recognize that like your daddy this sorts of events are not your jam. The whole idea feels ridiculous and a waste of time to you and for some reason comes with a dose of high anxiety. You expressed it to me. I knew how nervous you were. You most likely were the only child without a parent this morning. And I would bet my life that you were the child who needed a parent the most. And yet you had none.

Don’t blame daddy. He didn’t even know about it. This is my fault. 

I want to give you an excuse. I want to explain to you that while you slept last night daddy and I spent the night in the hospital from 2am-4am, but you hear these stories all the time and I know how you hear them.

You hear about the star. You focus on the star. You focus on the who we put first.

It’s true. Stories revolve around characters and there is most likely a main character. You are following the story of the star and that star has been Jacob. I know you want to be the main character and you should. You want to know that your parents place you first. 

But know this, you are a star! No one can deny that. You light up a room. But for five months you have played a supporting role and sometimes even an extra. That is a new role for you.

Even on your birthday, you played a supporting role. Your mom was in a another movie, she had to be with Jacob. She was not at your birthday dinner. 

I remember when we got Jacob’s diagnosis and Cerf (Dr. Cerfolio, our good friend and the man that saved your daddy’s life) went to you first and said “this is going to be just as hard on you.” How true his words are. You have been dealt a difficult hand. You don’t have ordinary parents right now. While they walk among you, you know they are limited. And you have learned that the hard way.

I agree with you. You don’t get the attention you deserve. As you put it best “it’s all about Jacob.” 

And while its “unfair” as you point out (daily), I have been amazed by how this trauma has transformed you. Sometimes transformation isn’t always from positive experiences. To transform you need to be taken out of your norm. A transformation is a change in state and needs a catalyst. Jacob has catapulted you into a new reality. One where you need to stand on your own and even help run the house.

One where you have become a man.

I don’t think age should define when a person becomes a man. Why age is a qualifier is baffling. I know loads of 13-year-olds who couldn’t do what you do. While it is not your bar mitzvah year, I do think you are a man. Like with everything in life, you do things earlier than most. This time a whole 5 years earlier.

And as a man, you have learned the biggest lesson. That often in life you will play a supporting role. You will not always be the star, but yet you can still shine. And often shinning in a supporting role is even more rewarding.

I have seen moments where you shine. When in Austria you sucked up all of Jacob’s screams and gave in to all of his demands. Or the time you told Jacob that “mom is so stressed, just stop screaming for her.” He didn’t listen but know this, that still was the stealing scene of the film. You got the Oscar. You, as supporting actor, you stole the show. I was hanging on your every word. Captivated by your bright light.

I need to follow your lead and do a better job in your feature film. I need to be your supporting actor. I need to show up like you have. 

But as a man, I know you are capable of another manly task, forgiveness.

I will make this up to you.


Join the Conversation


  1. Oh Abby. I can be there if you can’t. I can bring him a flower or gold star. Please use me if you need me. But also, don’t be so hard on yourself!!! You are only one person.

    Jamie Roy 917-576-5228


  2. No Do you know anyone in Lizzys class? I don’t even know her ….

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Abby, this is Amelia from high school. I’m sorry if it’s too weird to be popping in like this. But I feel compelled to say that you are, truly and not metaphorically, a warrior, and I hope you can be kind and loving to yourself. Your burden is unimaginable and no one could manage it without slipping, all the time. I am holding you and your family in my heart and sending you energies of healing and peace.

    1. Amelia! Thank you so much for this note. Knowing I have people like you in my corner means a lot. Hope you are doing well and I wish you a happy and HEALTHY new year

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