My Fighter Daniel,
You truly are the strongest boy I know. You just turned 5 years old last week, but the amount of surgeries, challenges, and struggles you've gone through makes you braver than most people.
You were born with a syndrome that affects a lot of your body parts, hence all the procedures you've had done. You also have Autism, however, we didn't find that out until six months ago when you were 4 years old. Despite everything you've been through, you've never let any of that effect your happiness or your ability to form friendships with anyone.
Remember two years ago, you were trying to build relationships with your older brother and younger sister? That was so hard for you. You just wanted to be their friend, but neither of them cared at the time. You made friends wherever we went with your extroverted personality. I knew you were just trying to make up for what you didn't have with your siblings.
We knew your brother had Autism, which explained his sensitivities to your high energy. Your sister hadn't been diagnosed yet, but it later confirmed why she wanted to be alone and play by herself.
You never gave up on wanting to be their friend. Your persistence finally paid off. Your brother started going to preschool and something changed. I'm not sure if it's because you two didn't see each other for half the day and missed one another now, or if school helped with his social skills. It's probably a little of both, but he started to see you.
He wanted to play with you and be around you. You were always making him laugh, joking around with him. He's non-verbal, but you don't care. I love that you help him communicate with his speech device. You're such a helpful little brother.
Your sister came around a lot sooner than your brother did. You two were always wrestling with each other, and so loving toward one another. She doesn't talk as much as you do, because she doesn't have as many words as you right now. But I know she's learning and growing, because of you.
Our family would be so different without you. I know I'm hard on you sometimes. I know you get in trouble a lot. I also know that it's not your fault. I don't say it often but you are such an important member of our family. You are the glue that holds our family together.
If it weren't for you, our life would be very quiet. I would have two kids that couldn't talk. I would never know if your siblings understood what I was saying to them. Because of you, I know they do. I know they understand more than we all think. You're always telling me what you think they are trying to say. As their brother, I think you know.
If it weren't for you, nobody would get along. I would have two kids that don't interact with each other. You are the person they both like. You have a different relationship with each one and both are equally beautiful. You are the bridge between your brother and sister, and I hope one day they will have a special bond with each other too.
If it weren't for you, no one would eat by mouth. I wouldn't get to experience having a child who's not on a feeding tube. I know your sister eats applesauce, but that's all. They're interested in food because of you. They watch you eat and drink and want to copy you. You make eating fun and enjoyable and I believe they see that.
Daniel, you have the biggest heart. You love your brother and sister so much. I'm so happy that you have a better relationship now with both of them. You help them with everything and always want what's best for them. Thank you for holding our family together. And when your brother and sister start to form their special bond together, I know it'll be because of you.
Kate lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. You can read her writing at her blog This Special Journey.