You came into this world on November 29, 1986. I don’t remember this day or even the days and months following this event. (I was, after all, barely 2 years old) But this date is one of the most significant in my life because it was the date of your birth, my first sibling, my little brother Zach.
You were my guinea pig sibling, the one I made all of my “big sister” mistakes on, but God used you to mold me into the big sister I became for the youngest three.
You had the ability to make me very, very angry, or very, very happy. There was never an in-between with you, I was either annoyed by you or pleased by you. More often than not, I was pleased with your company.
You were my first best friend, and no other man shared that title with you until I got married. I remember days of kickball in the street (because where else would we play?) and power rangers in the front yard. My summers were filled with watching you play t-ball and eventually baseball, and then in high school, golf. I still remember the feeling of pride I had watching you play. You were humble in spite of your undeniable talent, and I remember wishing that I had that quality. Humility, I mean.
It was just you and I before mom decided she wanted three kids instead of just two, and then we ended up with the twins and eventually, the baby. Watching you “big brother” the younger kids has been incredible. You are far more patient and understanding than I, and I’ve found that I’ve learned more from you than you have from me in this respect.
My most fond memories of you have Christmas in them. Not because this is my favorite holiday (although it is) but because you were my “Santa buddy”. You and I would go into the living room after Santa came to look at all of the presents and to wait for that sacred hour of 6:30 am when Dad and Mom would finally let us wake them up. We would sit and guess what we had gotten and share those precious magical moments together by the tree just dreaming of the hour when we could play with our toys.
I have watched in awe your relationships with people aside from your family. You have been a faithful and loyal friend to every one you’ve had in spite of their “social status”. You still have many of the same friends you had from your youth and I find that to be an admirable quality. I know they would say the same of you.
With the exception of one girl (who I’m not so thrilled with after the fact) I never liked anyone you dated. I’m pretty sure that there were legitimate reasons why, but mostly, I don’t like the idea of a woman in your life besides your family. I know that one day I’ll have to accept whoever you do bring home, but it will be really hard for me because in my eyes, there is no one good enough. I’m sure this is a pain to you.
Now that we’re older and I’m married, our relationship has changed. I’m now closest to Andrea, and you have great relationships with Jake and Ben. But there’s still a special spark I feel for you, my little brother, my first sibling. You warm my heart when I’m near you and your thoughtfulness still catches me by surprise.
Last Valentines Day, Luke was deployed and I was feeling particularly sorry for myself. You took me out to dinner. Just the two of us. It may not have been that big of a deal to you, but it touched me incredibly. It made my entire month. I will never forget that moment, or how it made me feel for the rest of my life.
You are now about to embark upon a different journey. Something that will take you away from your home and will change you beyond measure. You will never be the same. We will never be the same. I will never be the same.
In the hours before you leave us, I am realizing just how much I have taken you for granted. The fact that you’re just a bedroom away. The fact that if I want to, I can go shopping, out to dinner, to the movies, or anywhere with you at the drop of a hat. I’m angry with myself for not doing it more often. Why do we always wait until the moment before we can’t do it to wish that we had?
I know that you’ll just be a plane-ride away, I know that we can email and write letters. But for now, I want nothing more than to be by that Christmas tree with you, staring at the presents, and counting down the hours until 6:30 am.