“When the seat next to you becomes empty”

The following was submitted by Marlene, one of our GiGi’s Playhouse Phoenix Moms.  Thank you so much for sharing this, Marlene.

“When the seat next to you suddenly becomes empty…….”

“We never really think about how hard it could be when your best friend, the person you share everything with, suddenly becomes sick.  For typical people, that coping process can weigh heavily and also vary a lot between every person.  Thankfully though, typical people are usually able to communicate through their stages of grief and use their support systems to help them get through it.”



But, what happens when that happens to someone with Down Syndrome? Someone with more limited comprehension and communication skills?  How would they cope with the same situation?

Unfortunately, we’re experiencing this first-hand as Brett’s best friend Kaitlyn has had a heartbreaking last 6 months.  Her and her family have had to navigate diagnosis and endure ups and downs of treatment.  They are an amazing group of people and we are for them deeply.




Through this experience though, we have struggled to explain to Brett what is happening. How do you explain to him that his best friend, the person he shared many memories, laughs,and good times with is going through something so serious and life changing?  We haven’t been able to find the right words to help him understand.  We tell him his friend is trying hard to get better, but all he hears is that he needs to help her.  He thinks about and asks about his friend daily, hourly, even by the minute sometimes.


To some who don’t understand, they wonder why he can’t get over it already.  The simple answer is that the reason he can’t is because he is special, kind, and just misses his friend so much that it hurts him deeply.  While he may not completely understand everything that’s going on, one thing is crystal clear, the amount of love that he, and so many others with Down Syndrome have for those that they care about.  And we are all so much better because of it.


So, for now, we all take it day by day, supporting her and her family in doing all they can to help her get back to herself, so the chair next to Brett does NOT stay empty and his best friend will be sitting right next to him again.

And when she is back next to him, you will certainly know, because you will hear both their laughter together again.  You have to believe, always.

Written with much love,


(edited by Nikki)




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