Happy Birthday, brother

A letter to my brother on his 39th birthday:
Dear Brother, 
Today on your birthday I want let you know just how incredibly valuable you are to this world. I have watched you my whole life, from your mannerisms, your friendships,and now your marriage. You continue to be someone who I look up to and learn from, and aspire to be more like. You are someone who has shown patience and grace with me, over and over again- even when I don’t deserve it. You have forgiven me in the worst of times, and have been there for me more than I deserve. 
From our earliest childhood memories- mostly tainted with ice-spitting, scarred arms from my pinches, and far too many stories of my “biological Mom”, to our past decade of adult memories, you have consistently been the epitome of loyalty, honesty, and self-awareness. I think back to our childhood years, and to say that you were brave would be an understatement. I always felt safe and protected alongside you, no matter what chaos was occuring in our childhood home. You navigated through your high school years amidst simple-minded, small-town beliefs. You grew into your true self in your college years, and I sat back in awe of just how incredible it was to see someone be so completely himself. I am still in awe of this. 
You have been a constant in my children’s life. You have supported my parenting, and have participated in the kids’ life as much as you can. You have shown up for them, for their games, their school programs, and their many milestones. You have proven to be a person they can call anytime, for French homework help, for fundraiser purchases (!), for piano lessons via Facetime, and for ideas for science fair projects. You. Are. Always. There. For. Them. and they KNOW that. I am beyond thankful for that. 
The past couple years I have learned from you and Rodney what it means to love without condition. I have learned to love limitlessly and fully. I have learned to be confident in myself and my relationship, without seeking validation from anyone else. I look at the way the two of you treat each other- which such respect. I admire you both and the love that you share. Being able to witness your marriage this fall was one of the best times of my life. Being surrounded by an incredible group of friends and family, it was obvious just how many people love you both. 
Thank you for always being my big brother…the good, the bad, the hard, the easy, the tough times and the best of times. Thank you for loving me and my kids, always. Thank you for supporting me, for teaching me, and for helping me. I hope today is the best day ever! You deserve it all! 

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