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Birthday Boy

Dear Justin,

How is it possible in a few days you will be nineteen? Not a huge birthday like eighteen was with all the hullaballoo around guardianship and social security, and not a landmark birthday like twenty-one where you will cease attending your beloved school and hopefully enter a good day program. Significant none-the-less, with this summer being the time I fill out the NJCAT on you to help determine your after twenty-one budget. The time where I have to be honest about all the things you can’t do (even if it kills me) because I want you to have the appropriate funds so you can live your best life possible.

Here, chez McCafferty, it’s always been about your living your best possible life.

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We will get through this milestone as we’ve gotten through all the others, and will get through all the ones to come. I’d rather concentrate on how lucky I am to have you as a son.

At the end of the day, that’s much more fun.

I am so proud of you for so many things. For your hours at the municipal center where you work once a week. How you work so hard in your individualized program at school without complaint. Your behavior on school field trips, and your ability to walk away from desired toys in Target without a fuss. How you eat broccoli and lettuce like a champ.

I have to say I am super proud of the latter. I want it on my tombstone.

But I’m also proud of you for the little things, the intangibles that make up a life. For your patience when we don’t immediately fulfill your hundredth request for juice as quickly as you would like. For your ability to wait as Mom figures out what you want to see on Disney plus. For that affection you show me (mostly in the bathroom, everything important in this family seems to occur there) that fills my heart.

The little things matter.

Nineteen years ago you made me a mom, and you were such a wanted baby. I have to say the years we’ve had together definitely did not go as planned, as autism, OCD, tic disorder and intellectual disability often made you struggle for even a pretense of happiness in this world. If I could I would have spared you so much of these struggles, but you have come through the other side and grown into such a loving young man, of whom I’m eternally proud.

And one who will soon get to eat cupcakes on his birthday as his brother blows out his candle for him and makes a wish on his behalf (one of the best parts of your day).

I love you Justin. Your dad and brother and I will always try to do right by you. You deserve that in spades.

Happy birthday my oldest love!

For more on my family visit my blog at

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