Emma, you brought us so much joy, like a veggie stir-fry with some soy

This is a love letter to a star, a beautiful, softly spoken star who first captured the heart of my niece, and then me, back in 2012. This is a letter to you, Emma Watkins.

How can it be! This morning I woke up filled with sadness, scrolling through Instagram, learning you were hanging up your yellow skivvy and un-clipping your big bow after almost 10 years as a Wiggle.

Emma Watkins with Nikoletta Tsoukani.Credit:Niki Tolios

We’ve been watching you the whole time, maybe you know us. I think you do. But you could never really know how much you have meant to our family, to my niece Nikoletta, a 17-year-old girl with Down Syndrome.

Together, Niko and I have watched you perform in at least 20 concerts. My favourite moment, perhaps Niko’s too, was at a little theatre in Dandenong, back in July 2018.

We were there early and moved to the front area, where we always try to be.

Niko, then 14, was wearing her yellow Wiggles top, and as she signed the Auslan alphabet, you sang and looked at her proudly the whole time, both of you signing together, smiling back at each other.

At the end of the song, you signed thank you to Niko.

Today, I want to say thank you to you.

Thank you for signing with her that day. Thank you for looking at her while you sang and signed.

Nikoletta Tsoukani with the Wiggles.Credit:Niki Tolios

Thank you for filling our living room with dancing every single day.

Thank you for filling our hearts with joy year after year.

My sister and I have not yet told Niko you are leaving the Wiggles, but once we do, we know how devastated she is going to be.

It’s a sad time for us, but know we are so happy for you. We wish you a career filled with immense joy.

Nikoletta Tsoukani reaches up to give Emma Watkins flowers.Credit:Niki Tolios

All these years, Niko has grown into a young woman, religiously watching you on the TV, on YouTube, on Instagram … wherever she can find you.

Her workbooks at school are filled with thoughts of you. Day 1 of homeschooling … “On the weekend I danced to The Wiggles”.

Her bedroom walls, filled with you. If there is a piece of Emma merchandise, we have it. Maybe two or three.

Niko and I have been attending The Wiggles shows since she was a very young girl, lucky enough to go to multiple shows per year, even luckier to get front row, or close to front row at most shows.

When meeting you, you are always so gentle and softly spoken, and this has always been such a positive experience for not only Niko, but all children with special needs and sensory issues.

It will never be the same again without you there Emma. You are loved and will be missed, not just by Niko but by so many.

Just like your song, you have brought us so much joy, like a veggie stir-fry with some soy.

Flicking through another video on my phone today, this time you’ve pulled out a card Niko has made for you on stage.

A picture of a flower on the front, you open it up, and the inside reads, in her words:

“I love Emma, you are beautiful.”

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