March 14, 2011

Brave Like Daniel

All kids can't be brave like Daniel is.
--Spoken by Olivia, sister to Daniel, March 13, 2011

There are things my daughter sometimes says ....

Words that freeze time for me, for a moment.

And in that moment I am aware of nothing, other than the tremendous love I have for my children, and the reassurance that if anybody was ever sent into my life directly from Heaven, it is my daughter, my amazing Olivia.

I cannot begin to imagine what it is like to be Olivia.

I am an only child, so I can't even appreciate what it means to be a sibling, much less a sibling to a disabled brother. When I consider that Olivia is growing up with an older brother who will always need her help -- a brother who is completely unable to talk to her, cheer for her, listen to her, pretend with her, scheme with her -- I wonder just how deeply autism has affected her.

Is her brother's autism one of the reasons she basks in the attention of her favorite friend at school?

Is it one of the reasons she can so quickly dissolve into tears when things don't go her way?

Is it one of the reasons she gets so frustrated when she doesn't accomplish something in a matter of seconds -- does her brother's disability explain her need to be able to do everything perfectly, and to obtain perfection immediately?

No better way to put it: It is enough to blow my mind.

So I am thankful for the moments, like the one last weekend, when Olivia says something that makes me pause ... and smile ... and refocus on the amazing capacity for love that exists within my daughter.

She was climbing the ropes that connected two park play structures. Her father encouraged her to climb even higher, and there it was:

"All kids can't be brave like Daniel is," she said in response.

And there was her brother, high in the ropes, as high as any child could climb.

Even though he cannot talk to her, even though she knows he is so very different, even though she knows he struggles with so much ....

Olivia sees her brother as brave.

Of course she does.

Because he is.

She could not have a braver brother if she searched the world.

He faces each day with joy and enthusiasm, and the purest love for the people in his life ... even though he cannot talk to us, even though he is diferent, even though he struggles with so much.

I am so thankful I have a daughter who sees it, and who loves her brother so deeply, and who possesses the ability to remind me of the countless reasons I have to be proud of her ... and her brother.


  1. I love it, it's really amazing to see autism through the siblings eyes- I'm always shocked by how my older son views his brother. Olivia is going to be an amazing person because of having a brave brother like Daniel.

  2. It's sometimes hard to tell as they grow up how many of the problems between siblings are just that, and how many are unique to a special needs relationship. Imagine that, typical interactions within an atypical relationship. Dude's step-sis isn't a 'kiddie' person, but there have been many times that she'll do something for him, or say something about him that just blows me away. It also makes me re-think what I think I know about their relationship. Which is a good thing.

  3. 'Is her brother's autism one of the reasons she basks in the attention of her favorite friend at school?' you know, i have often wondered the exact same thing about Hope.

    olivia is a gift. and she is so brave. no doubt she gets it from her brother and her mama.