to my brother on his 30th birthday
It's unbelievable to me that my brother is 30 today. It doesn't seem as though that much could have passed in our lives or that so many amazing things could have happened in our lives as we both reached our 30's. My wonderful sister-in-law wanted to do something special so she asked us to write letters to Matt that he would open and read on his birthday. Here is an excerpt from mine:
I don’t really remember a time before you were in my life. There isn’t one childhood memory that you are not a part of. I remember the excitement leading up to your birth, how amazed I was at your tiny fingers and toes. I wanted to carry you with me everywhere but you were too small and too fragile. Once you were old enough, we became partners in crime, driving Mom and Dad insane with our games and secrets. You were never afraid of anything. You jumped off anything with height, crawled in tight spaces (often getting stuck) and always seemed to be thinking about your next great adventure. With my imagination and your lack of fear, we were quite a team.
We used the antennae on the side of the house in Headland as a ladder and climbed on the roof too many times to count. Those times in that house are some of my favorite. I’ll never forget dancing to Footloose, making the record skip and singing the skipping parts over and over again. Or your ridiculous He-Man toothbrush holder:
“Hi, I’m He-Man. I’m as strong as can be and I brush my teeth with regularity.
Once in the morning, and once at night and after each meal so my teeth will shine. If you remember this saying and you rehearse you’ll be like the Masters of the Universe!”
There are so many moments in my memory of us being silly and making each other laugh. You were the worst in church because if you started laughing, it would make me laugh, too, even if I had no clue what made you laugh in the first place. I’m not sure there’s anyone who can make me laugh as hard or as joyously as you do.
It was rare for us to be away from one another for any significant length of time, but when we were, you always did something to show me you were still thinking of me. Sometimes this meant bringing me back a t-shirt or souvenir and other times it meant sneaking odd stuff like a fold-up stool into my luggage. I’ll never forget getting mail from you when I was a camp counselor at Blue Lake. I especially enjoyed the jokes, which sometimes meant waiting for the next letter for the punch line. The letter I had to read in the mirror was also genius and a keepsake I still treasure.
There was a part of me that thought we would always be that close. I can’t count how many times I drove those back roads between Mobile and Tuscaloosa to visit you, how you were truly growing up in front of me becoming your own person, your own man. I think I hoped you’d always belong to me, the way you did as a boy. My brother, the one with stitches in his head because I popped a wheelie, hit the curb and he went flying off the back; the one who was afraid to be left alone too long and got into everything (motor oil, lipstick, flour, Vaseline) as soon as you turned your back. Things seemed simpler when we were kids, when we were in our club of 2.
So much in our lives has changed since then. Graduations, weddings, and now you’re about to become a father.
I cannot wait to tell your daughter about how you were as a boy, taking things apart, trying to save strays and wounded animals. I will tell her how you sought adventure, even in our backyard and how you loved baseball and hated reading, how you teased me with a dead crab and never made me sing alone. I will tell her how deeply you love your family; adore her mother and how excited we all were for her to enter our lives. I will make sure she knows how loved you have always been and the ways in which that love multiplies to include her.
Today, on your birthday, I hope you feel surrounded by the people who love you though we cannot be there in person. I hope you feel lucky and blessed and realize how beautiful the life you are creating with Joanna is and will become once your daughter arrives.
I do not know what the future brings for either of us but I do know that I cherish every moment we have spent together since you entered my life and I will always be proud to be your sister.
Happy 30th Birthday, Brother!