On June 9th, 2012 I saw you walk across the high school stage to receive your diploma.
You’re 12 (almost 13 years) younger than me, & 10 (almost 11) years younger than Chad, (the other brother). I think it’s a given that you were the “oops” baby…okay “technically” I think we all were, but you DEFINITELY were a surprise!
A surprise that I didn’t want!
I remember the exact moment when mom told Chad & I that she was having another baby (you!…even though I once had you convinced you were an alien child & our parents were just watching you until your alien family came to take you home…yeah, thanks for crying to dad on that one & getting me in all kinds of trouble!). We were standing in the kitchen, by the stove, at the house on Hollyview. Mom was cooking dinner & we were asking her what in the world was going on. We knew something was wrong-mom had been crying & upset for days, dad was short-tempered & angry (yep, you made everyone miserable at first). Mom told us she was having another baby, after we laughed & said, “whatever”, we realized she was telling the truth.
Boy, was I PISSED!
I don’t remember the exact moment when mom & dad told me about Chad (after all I was only 2 when he was born), but I highly doubt I reacted with such anger.
I was mean & hateful all during mom’s pregnancy.
Under no uncertain terms did I want to talk about the baby or the changes that our family would be going through. Besides I was at the age that I knew where babies came from & to think that my parents were doing…that…gross! Well, I still don’t want to think about it, so let’s just move on!
When you were finally born on July 7th, 1993 I remember how tiny you were & when I placed my hand in the hospital bassinet you held on tightly to my finger. After you were born & loved on by mom & dad, mom wouldn’t let anybody else hold you until Chad & I got our chance.
I was hooked. I truly had a baby brother.
I remember how scared I was when, as a toddler, you had to have surgery on your ears. How hilarious, (and still is), when in kindergarten you forged mom’s name on your book report when you forgot to bring it home for her to sign (seriously…even at 5 you had to know that mom’s real name isn’t “MOM”). When I graduated high school & moved to Texas, pictures you drew for me decorated my walls and a couple years later when I moved back home, I remember your little blonde head running down the airport terminal to greet me with a hug.
When you were 10, I remember crying with you & hugging you when Chad, who was in the military, was leaving for his first deployment to Iraq. What do you say to a child when he says, “I don’t want my brother to die.”…even though it was exactly what I was thinking.
Your first junior high dance you called me because you had, “something big” you wanted to ask me…it was to teach you how to dance. And I did, in the basement of mom & dad’s house for hours, until you could move your feet in a square without stepping on my toes. I watched you go from riding bicycles, to snowmobiles, to dirt bikes, to eventually driving big, obnoxious trucks (Dodge’s, of course). I laughed when girls were “gross”, teased you when you were “just friends” & hated it when it turned into a “relationship”.
You were an uncle at 9, & have buried 3 grandparents…all before you could even drink a beer (legally, that is!). When Grandma C. died almost 3 months ago, she wanted to see you graduate more than anything, but life didn’t work out like that. I was so proud of your compassion & heart when I saw your graduation cap attached to her grave the next day.
Through the years I’ve held you in my arms as a baby, looked down at you, & then eye-level with you…and in the blink of an eye, I now have to look up at your over 6” frame.
Graduation’s are always the same…people saying, “go out & conquer the world”, “you can do anything”…blah blah blah. And that is true, to an extent…but when you watch someone go from being a little boy to a nice, young man…you worry the world will take away the “nice, young man” part.
So, here’s some advice from your big sister:
1–Trust in God. Even when its hard to! Always remember that he has a plan for your life beyond anything you can comprehend. Talk to him…he does listen.
2–Forgive…forgive…forgive. Forgive others & forgive yourself for mistakes that are made. Unforgiveness can turn you bitter & its just not worth it. Always allow second chances (and sometimes 3 & 4). Just bestow forgiveness on everything & everybody because people (including you) can always change.
3–Be honest & fair with everybody…all the time. The truth can sometimes hurt, but not nearly as much as lies do.
4–Work hard. Don’t ever think that you’re “entitled” to something. You’re always replaceable in your career, & you’re never “safe”. Work as hard as you can, have a clean reputation, & have a backup saved “just in case”.
5–Stay connected to your roots….your family. We’re nosey, we’re bossy, we’re always going to be in your business & think we know what’s best for you, & without a doubt we’re going to piss you off BIG TIME. But, we’re your family…and the only one you’ve got! You’re kind of stuck with us, and us you. Life changes, people change…but know we’re always going to support you, defend you, & love you. As dad once told me, “I don’t always love your decisions, but I’ll always love you.”…you’re always going to have your siblings within reach!
I’m proud of you then, I’m proud of you now, & I’ll be proud of you always. Whatever this life brings you, wherever this life takes you, know you’ll never be alone.
1993-The week you came home from the hospital…how tiny you were!