Tuesday, June 7, 2016

There's no friend like a brother


On this day (ok it's tomorrow but I'll be on the road then), eighteen years ago, my life changed irrevocably—but definitely for the best. Having been the youngest child for ten years, it was quite the shift when my little brother was born. I went from being the baby to the middle child, but from that day forward, I learned a type of fierce, protective love I hadn't yet experienced and to this day have still found nothing comparable.
 
It was kind of like that at first (ok, so honestly, we have pretty much this exact same picture), but the little guy did grow on me.

On his birthday, I celebrate, because my best friend was brought into this world. But, as I celebrate, I also reflect upon what he means to me. Of course, he is many things to me—my little brother, my tag-along, my friend, my confidante. Over the years, our relationship has grown and changed, but he has always been my constant partner-in-crime, the one with whom I always know I’ll have a good time, and the one who just “gets” me even when I’m saying something off the wall, quoting a movie, or just generally being silly.

I celebrate, because having a little brother means I learned many very important lessons:


Life is unpredictable. Life throws you curves, and situations jump out to meet you in unexpected ways. Never was this more clear in my life than with the addition of a little brother. Whether it was standing in the batter’s box while he learned to pitch and getting hit by a ball or two, not quite catching the toys tossed my direction (when I clearly wasn’t looking), or realizing that I’d never love anyone in the world quite like I love my little brother, life was full of unpredictable moments—some great, some bruise-causing, but you know...all worth it in the end.

There were times I felt this kid's pain. After all, it's unpredictable...

The little moments end up meaning the world. We have a lifetime of small memories. We drove to school together, we bickered off an on, we had inside jokes, we have silly stories—a million small memories. They were passing moments, fleeting moments, but they shaped us with an indestructible bond—and let’s be real, most of them make pretty funny stories these days.

When I think back on our time growing up together, I often remember how, whenever I’d go outside to play basketball, he’d tag along with me. At thirteen, fourteen, and so on, I had no idea how special those moments would become. I had no idea that I’d go from sighing and laughing about him always wanting to hang out with me to wishing we could go shoot nightly baskets again and chat about life. Similarly, each morning on the drive to school, we’d jam out to music. Then, it was just an ordinary day. Now, those are some of my favorite memories—and still some of our favorite songs to sing together.

Tanner was—and always has been—my reminder to cherish and live in the fun of the simple moments. 


 

Someone is always watching you. Leave a good example. Pretty self-explanatory for any big sister. Nonetheless, thanks Tan for always making sure I thought about most decisions and knew you were paying attention. I think it’s safe to say either your presence—or knowing you’d say, do, repeat whatever I did—probably saved me from a lot of trouble.

A little encouragement goes a long way. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been thankful to have my little brother in my life to remind me to look as myself as he views me. Sure, his opinion is biased, but he was my biggest fan when I played sports, he thought I could hit the right notes when I was singing badly to Bon Jovi, and he never relented in telling me how awesome I was. Even now, when I forget my accomplishments, he’s there to remind me and encourage me—something I’ll never be able to fully express the right amount of gratitude for.

Brothers are forever friends. When we were young, we let adventure, silly shows, go-cart rides, and games take us away together. Even with our age difference, we played. We enjoyed each other’s friendship. When I learned a new sport, he learned with me. When he learned football, I learned with him. We were kindred spirits, truly friends from the beginning.

As we’ve grown and we don’t see each other every day, our friendship has only grown and adapted to the distance of our locations. His influence in my life has taught me that no one can be a friend quite like a brother. He’s bravely stepped up to be my defender—even when he was so much smaller. He’s been the one with whom I can cause trouble. He’s been the one who will listen, who will always make me laugh, with whom I can just go for a quiet drive and enjoy the beauty of peaceful silence, with whom I can talk about the truly deep things and problems in life, and with whom I can always be myself. I know that, whatever stage we’re at in life, I can call him or he can call me—and we’ll take it on together.

That’s why I get so excited every June to celebrate his big day. So if you’re lucky enough to be a sister to a little brother, thank your lucky stars. I know I will—not only on his birthday, but especially on his birthday. I will celebrate because my sweet, fun loving favorite little guy has become the young man with unshakable but quiet strength and with a one-of-a-kind zinger sense of humor. I celebrate, because eighteen years ago, I was given the coolest gift—a little brother!

Happy birthday to the coolest, strongest, funniest guy I know, my brother.