Dear Marcus, Ted, Winston and Ben,
First, let me introduce myself. My name is Nish and I live in Salt Lake City, Utah with my husband and our two small kids. We've been big fans of your music since the US release of your first album, and we're still kicking ourselves for not buying tickets to your show at the Aladdin Theater when we were living in Portland, Oregon. It would've been incredible to see you play in a small venue like that. Oh, and congratulations on the Grammy for Babel! It was well-deserved and was far & away our favorite album of the year.
Now, enough with the small talk. I'll stop wasting your time and get to the real reason why I'm writing you this letter.
Just over a year ago, our son Rowan was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He's a very high-functioning kid, very smart, and very clever. He's a sweet boy who struggles to relate with other small children (though, it's slowly getting better, thanks to preschool). He is about 85% non-verbal, struggles with crowds and suffers from pretty severe anxiety at times. He has obsessive-compulsive tendencies, which makes it hard for him to do things that other kids do easily, like enjoy playing with other children, or transition from one thing to another. When he has a hard time, he becomes aggressive, he lashes out, and on particularly hard days, he resorts to self-injury because he can't communicate & handle his emotions properly. We face a lot of challenges with Rowan, but he can also be kind, funny, personable, and so gentle. We are beyond grateful that we get to be his parents, even on the hardest days.
Recently, Rowan has had a hard time going to school. We'll get him dressed and packed, and as soon as we get in the car, he immediately starts to freak out. Screaming, thrashing, crying, hitting himself. It's difficult to handle, and it's exhausting. I'll back out of the driveway with him buckled into the carseat and away we go, him screaming and crying all the way.
However, this last week, I've started playing your songs for him in the car on the way to school. As soon as the opening bars to "I Will Wait" come blasting through the car speakers, the tears stop, the screaming quiets down and a smile the size of Texas is plastered on his face. He starts dancing, playing the air-guitar (and air-banjo), and bopping his head to the music.
You see, Rowan loves your music. Even more than Erik and I do, and that's saying something. He knows every word to every song, he has every move in your music videos memorized, and as soon as we start your music, no matter where we are, he starts dancing, singing, and pretending that his calculator is a banjo or a guitar. He pretends to lift an upright bass over his head like Ted does during concerts, he pretends to play the banjo with more hip-grinding fervor than Winston and Jason Bateman combined, he stomps his foot while singing like Marcus and stands next to the arm of the couch, which becomes Ben's piano.
You are his favorite.
Your music brings more joy to Rowan than anything we've managed to do in our four years as his parents. When he listens to your music, it's as if all of his struggles, anxieties and obstacles are pushed out of the way and he can just be the happy little boy that we so deeply desire him to be. I firmly believe that Rowan is his true, happiest self when he is listening to you play, and I'll forever be grateful to you for that.
Thank you for being faithful to your craft. Thank you for your commitment to your passion and talent for music. It's not just entertainment, or fun to listen to. It's healing and powerful, and it's worked a small miracle for my boy.
I dream of the day when Rowan overcomes his anxiety enough to be able to take him to a Mumford & Sons concert and watch him close his eyes, dance and smile to your music in the middle of a crowd. In the meantime, we'll settle for watching him close his eyes, dance and smile to your music in the middle of our living room.
Thank you for your hard work and I thank God for gifting you with such remarkable talent. Keep it up, if only for your biggest small fan in Utah.
With love and appreciation,