Today, a very special guy in my life turns 25 years old.
My brother is one of the good guys. He’s dedicated, loyal, and passionate. He’s responsible, caring, and funny. He’s not one to blame others for what life has given him and always steps up when he needs to. And I get to call him my brother.
We are just 14 months apart so we grew up as each others’ best friend and worst enemy. We had terrible fights and I don’t know how my parents dealt with our bickering without tearing their hair out. But we had incredible times together. Times spent playing MarioKart and Donkey Kong on Super Nintendo, with a big bucket of popcorn by our side. Staying up on Christmas Eve, playing board games and doing whatever we could to stay awake but never failing to fall asleep before 3:00am. Watching TV shows together with our Little Debbies nightly snack. Walking to the bus stop together. Letting him talk me into skipping school.
It’s only been recently that I’ve realized what an impact my brother has had on my life. My father has been a bad influence on me, my self-esteem and self-worth. But my brother has done just the opposite. He’s been there for me, always has my back, and is the one building up that self-esteem and self-worth that my dad left in shambles. He knows exactly what I went through with my dad as he was right along for the ride, too.
We have a strong connection, the two of us. Our inside jokes are aplenty and make no sense to anyone but us (as all good inside jokes do). We can talk football for hours, but have also had some very deep conversations. We seem to have broken the Fantasy Football Fight curse that happens to us every year, but we still have our moments. We are both incredibly stubborn so put two stubborn people in a fight and you’ve got a losing battle.
One of the most extraordinary things about my brother is his relationship with his son. Ten days from now, my nephew will turn three years old. (No, I’m not ready to talk about it yet. I’m pretending this is not happening.) I’ve been able to see my brother hold his baby and feed him for the first time, so nervous about what to do and how to hold him. I’ve seen him rough-house with him, discipline him, and get frustrated with him. I’ve seen them laugh together and he is always ready with stories of new things he’s doing. He is the most proud of that boy and I am most proud of him as a father. I see none of my own father in him, even when he gets frustrated with his behavior. My nephew is so lucky to have someone like him as a father. He will never have to go through what we went through with our father. (And I also can’t say enough about my sister-in-law as a mother. She’s pretty fantastic in her own right, which means my nephew is THE luckiest child.)
Today, my brother turns 25 years old. It’s crazy to think of all we have been through and how close we remain to this day. I know his life has taken a different path than he envisioned, but I also know he doesn’t let life get him down. He’s one of the most positive forces in my life and I can only hope he knows how much he means to me.
Happy birthday, bro. You’re still the best.